In his novel Bleak House, Charles Dickens mocked the slow, laborious, and kabukiesque procedures of the Chancery courts in the United Kingdom. (G. K. Chesterton, known to many Mere Comments readers, considered Bleak House to be Dickens’ finest novel.)
In a similar manner, after eighteen years of extensive litigation in both state and federal courts, the Illinois Supreme Court came to the only logical, unanimous decision in the case Hope Clinic v. Flores. In 1995, the Illinois legislature enacted a law requiring 48 hours’ notice to an adult family member before a girl under 18 could have an abortion. The law included exceptions for emergencies, abuse, and minors accompanied by people entitled to notice. As a result of the suspension of this law, Illinois was a magnet for young women from throughout the Midwest as Illinois was the only state that did not require any parental notification.
Associate Justice Anne M. Burke, writing for the majority, stated, “We find that while a minor clearly has an expectation of privacy in her medical information, which includes the fact of her pregnancy, the intrusion on the minor’s privacy occasioned by the act is not unreasonable.” Three other members of the Illinois Supreme Court concurred separately. For those interested in reading the Court’s decision, it is available here.
As one could readily imagine, the ACLU (and their pro-death allies) were not happy. In a press release, Lorie Chaiten, Reproductive Rights Project director for the ACLU in Illinois, said the court’s decision relied upon:
. . . outdated ideological and unsupported assumptions about the purported harms of abortion. Most young women seek out the guidance of a parent or trusted adult when making the decision to terminate a pregnancy. Those who don’t choose not to for good reason, including the risk of physical and emotional abuse, being kicked out of their home or being forced to carry the child to term against their will.
Further, Ms. Chaiten was quoted by CBS Chicago, “We will never stop looking for ways to keep this law from being enforced. Our immediate goal is preparing . . . young women who need to go to court with a bypass to get to us so we can get them in touch with a pro-bono lawyer that can help.” So, for abortion absolutists, as it seems with other Leftists, laws that they don’t like continue to be mere suggestions.
Of course, both law and medicine agree that all minors are best served when parents or guardians are involved in any kind of important decision. The United States Supreme Court has held that the decision to abort the infant life they once created and are sustaining is a particularly difficult and painful moral decision fraught with emotional consequences for mature women. See, e.g., Gonzales v. Carhart, 550 U.S. 124 (2007). The decision is even more difficult for minor girls who often lack the maturity, experience, and knowledge necessary to make an informed decision about whether to have an abortion.
Unless there is an appeal to the United States Supreme Court, the Illinois Supreme Court’s ruling goes into effect later this week. Illinois now joins 38 other states in requiring some level of parental notification by minors prior to aborting a baby. (It only took 18 years, so I guess the law has now come of age.)
While kudos are due to the Illinois Supreme Court for eventually affirming the 1995 Parental Notification Law, I particularly applaud Peter Breen, Esq., and his colleagues at the Thomas More Society, for defending this law in court for many years. And in an utterly shameless plug and speaking only for myself, and not Mere Comments, I note that Mr. Breen, currently a Lombard, Illinois, village trustee, will run in the Republican primary election in March 2014 from Illinois’ 48th legislative district. The courage of Mr. Breen makes me wish I lived in that district.