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Illinois will be first state to roll back a Parental Notification of Abortion law

Guttmacher Institute

Illinois’ legislature is the only one to have ever backed off a Parental Notice of Abortion law, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights and advocacy organization.

The Illinois General Assembly last week voted to repeal the 1995 Parental notice measure, and Gov. J.B. Pritzker has said he will sign that into law.

Elizabeth Nash, who tracks state actions for the institute, she called the PNA repeal a bright spot for protecting abortion rights and access.

“Hopefully, this is what we will see in other progressive states in the not-too-distant-future to repeal abortion restrictions, but particularly to repeal restrictions on young people,” she said.

There are 37 states outside of Illinois with parental involvement in abortion laws. Nash says this year 20 states have approved more than 100 abortion restrictions — the most since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe V. Wade decision.

Cases are now before the court that could lead to repeal of Roe, including those from Mississippi and Kentucky.

In an emailed statement, Paula Thornton Greear, chief external affairs and reputation management officer for Parenthood of Illinois, said, “With nearly 600 restrictions introduced and two cases being heard by the Supreme Court next month, 2021 is the worst year for state legislature attacks on abortion since Roe.“

"A recent report by Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda revealed that 26 states are poised to ban abortion if Roe v. Wade is dismantled by the Supreme Court, putting 36 million women of reproductive age, as well as transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people at risk of losing access to abortion. Every single state that borders Illinois was on the list," she wrote.

Pro-life groups will work to help overturn Roe. And in Illinois, said Amy Gehrke, executive director of the anti-abortion organization Illinois Right to Life, the group will work throughout the next year to educate voters about what she calls an out-of-touch legislature’s actions on abortion, including last week’s PNA repeal.

“We're talking about girls as young as 10 or 11, being taken for abortions without their parents knowing. We're talking about the rights of Illinois parents being completely thwarted,” she said. “The arguments to keep this law in place are so much stronger. There really is no excuse to repeal parental notice of abortion."

“You know, 177 seats up for grabs and the Illinois legislature. So, Illinois Right to Life Action is going to be working very, very hard to mobilize pro-lifers across the state and beyond to flip vulnerable seats," Gerhke said.

“People need to know how extreme their legislators are in certain districts and that they supported repeal of parental notice. And that back in 2019, they supported the Reproductive Health Act, which rolled back every pro-life law that Illinois had,” she said.

“So we are already at work, mobilizing pro-life citizens, looking at candidates who are the most extreme when it comes to this issue, and we'll be working on educating people, throughout the state on exactly what our laws are, and then educating people as to just how extreme their legislators are, and the fact that they've voted for these extreme measures, and have been more interested in fulfilling the wishes of personal Pac and Planned Parenthood than the wishes of their constituents.”

Thornton Greear wrote, “Planned Parenthood of Illinois was instrumental in creating the legal environment necessary to support Illinois’ progressive laws on the status as a safe haven for patients seeking abortion. We are now working toward expanding regional capacity in order to welcome more patients, as need continues to grow. PPIL is poised to respond quickly, as legal circumstances change.”

Copyright 2021 NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Maureen Foertsch McKinney is the NPR Illinois News Editor and a lead editor of Illinois Issues' feature articles, working with freelance writers, and is curator of the Equity blog. Maureen joined the staff in 1998 as projects editor. Previously, she worked at three Illinois daily newspapers, most recently the suburban Chicago-based Daily Herald, where she served stints as an education reporter and copy editor. She graduated in 1985 with a bachelor's in journalism. She also has a master's degree in English from the University of Illinois at Springfield.