Illinois to Repeal Its Last Remaining Anti-Abortion Law (Updated)

Illinois Democrats want to repeal the state's "teen endangerment act" and stop forcing pregnant minors to involve a parent in their abortion.

2018 photo of Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker on the left standing next to Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who signed the 2019 Reproductive Health Act, has promised to support a repeal of the parental notification law. Joshua Lott/Getty Images

UPDATE, October 28: The Illinois House passed the repeal Wednesday night, one day after the state senate approved the bill. It now heads to the governor’s desk for signature; because the bill didn’t receive a three-fifths majority in the house vote, it cannot take effect until June 1, 2022.

Illinois declared abortion access a “fundamental right” two years ago, but anti-choice restrictions remain for minors, who are forced to involve their parents before getting an abortion. Now, Illinois Democrats are pushing for a repeal of the state’s dangerous parental notification law.

The Parental Notice of Abortion Act was passed in 1995 but only went into effect in 2013, after protracted legal battles. The Illinois law requires abortion providers to notify an adult family member at least 48 hours before performing an abortion on a pregnant minor, or else the minor must go before a judge for a judicial bypass. It also applies to a disabled person who has been assigned a legal guardian.

The law is the “last remaining legal obstacle” for abortion access in the state, according to Brigid Leahy of Planned Parenthood Illinois, who spoke to Rewire News Group in 2019:

It presents an unnecessary hurdle for teens seeking abortion care, she said, and it is potentially dangerous to pregnant teenagers in abusive or otherwise unsafe homes.

“We would really refer to it as a teen endangerment act,” she said.

Forced parental involvement laws in 38 states rest on the assumption that all families are safe, trusting, helpful, supportive, and strong, when that’s simply not true. And while judicial bypasses exist, they’re often expensive and difficult to obtain—and ultimately, not a solution.

With a Democratic majority in both houses of the Illinois General Assembly, a bill to repeal abortion restrictions for pregnant young people has a shot during this fall’s two-week legislative session—though not all Democratic lawmakers support the effort, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The governor has promised to sign a repeal if it gets through the legislature. “I’m in favor of repealing [the Parental Notice of Abortion Act] … I have stood in favor of it since I was elected,” Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker said this month, according to the Associated Press.

Already, Illinois has seen the damage abortion bans and restrictions can do. The number of pregnant people traveling into the state to receive abortions has surged in recent years, as nearby states passed increasingly restrictive abortion laws and Illinois expanded reproductive rights.

This post was adapted from a Twitter thread.