Emily Werth, a staff attorney at the ACLU of Illinois, said the legislature has decided “that when a young person is pregnant, it is in their best interests and all of our best interest that they have access to whatever medical care they need, without delay, without being put in harm’s way.”
“Abortion is one kind of medical care that they may need when they are pregnant. And it should be treated the same as any other kind of medical care,” Werth said.
A March report from ACLU Illinois and Human Rights Watch, which back repeal of the law, said about 1,000 minors have abortions each year in Illinois.
Werth, who in her role with the ACLU affiliate has helped minors secure a judicial bypass, said there have been about 575 instances of a judge granting a bypass since 1993, when the law took effect. The bypass procedure works for almost all individuals who begin it, Werth said, but she objected that many minors are not able to access it.
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“The system is complicated and creates significant logistical and emotional burdens for young people,” she said, adding that young people cannot skip school to attend court without their parents being alerted.
Republican Sen. Sue Rezin, who opposed the bill, said it goes beyond “the typical pro-life-versus-pro-choice debate.”
“How would repealing this law not help human traffickers?” she said, according to Capitol News Illinois.
Rezin cited the story of human trafficking survivor Brook Bello. Bello had testified that her traffickers forced her to get abortions decades ago. She thought parental notice rules could have helped free her
Sen. Elgie Sims, a Democrat and sponsor of the repeal bill, cited the bill provisions creating a working group for policy solutions for human trafficking.
Abortion provider Planned Parenthood Illinois said the passage of the repeal bill ensures “that young people can choose to involve the people they trust in their health care decisions and are protected from harmful domestic situations and unnecessary judicial interactions.”
“In short, all Illinoisans, regardless of age, now have the full legal autonomy to make decisions about what’s best for their bodies. We look forward to Governor Pritzker upholding his promise to sign this bill when it crosses his desk,” said the group, according to the ABC affiliate WLS News.
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Nearly 50,000 Illinois residents sent in electronic notices of opposition to the repeal bill, the Associated Press reports.
Illinois’ Catholic bishops had sought to rally opposition to the repeal effort. In a March letter, they said that the law is based on the hope that parents will be motivated by “deep love and moral obligation” and “act to protect, support and guide their children” when notified.
Repeal of the law, they said, is “nothing less than an invasion into the sacred space of family life by the state, with no provision to support the minor emotionally, humanely or materially at a critical moment in her life.”
The current law also provides “important safeguards against the evils of sexual abuse and human trafficking,” the bishops added.
“If a minor girl can be taken by any adult man to an abortion clinic, in the hopes of erasing the evidence of his abuse, what protection exists outside of the girl’s parent or guardian being informed? Why would we want to create such a dangerous environment?”
A coalition called Parents for the Protection of Girls sought to defend the law against the repeal effort. Leading groups in the coalition include Illinois Right to Life, March for Life Chicago, the Pro-Life Action League, and Students for Life of America.