Illinois action blog

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Parental Notification of Abortion Law Creates Barrier to Health Care

The Medical Disciplinary Board is set to meet tomorrow regarding the future of Illinois' Parental Notification of Abortion law. Though the law was supposed to go into effect November 3rd, a grace period extension was issued last Friday. Tomorrow, the Board will either decide to further extend the grace period or ask authorities to start enforcing the law immediately.

During this review process, we hope lawmakers realize how this law puts teens' lives in unnecessary risk. However, despite the outcome, we are committed to doing everything we can to make this new process as easy as possible for teens.

Did you catch today's Chicago Tribune editorial, "Time for parent notice" written in support of the Parental Notification of Abortion law? Read PPIL President & CEO Steve Trombley's response:

The Chicago Tribune's editorial, "Time for parent notice" takes a myopic and dangerous position regarding the issue of parental notification.

While Planned Parenthood of Illinois agrees that in an ideal world, parents would be involved in their teens' health care, and engaged in healthy dialogue around responsible decision making, we believe that government cannot - and should not - mandate this communication.

Most teens seek their parents' advice and counsel when making decisions about their health care. But in some cases, safe and open communication is not possible. In those cases, research shows parental notice laws do not enhance parent-teen communication, but they may be harmful to teens' health and well-being.

Planned Parenthood of Illinois feels strongly that the Illinois Parental Notice of Abortion Act of 1995 puts teens' lives at unnecessary risk. We have seen the harmful impact in other states that have parental involvement laws. In Massachusetts, a thirteen year-old was raped by her mother's boyfriend. When she became pregnant, she felt that she could not turn to her mother.

When she found out that in order to have an abortion she would have to either tell her mother or get a court order, she decided that she simply could not face a judge. Left without any other option, she told her mother. Her mother responded by calling her a "slut" and throwing her out of the house. This is just one story among many that illustrate the dangerous impact this law will have.

And that is why every leading medical organization - including the American Medical Association, The American Academy of Pediatrics, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, The Society for Adolescent Medicine, and The American Public Health Association - publicly opposes forced parental involvement laws. They recognize these laws impose serious and irreversible harms with no justification.

The Tribune editorial references how a minor who can't get an aspirin from a nurse without permission, but completely overlooks the inconsistent policies we have in Illinois regarding minors' rights to make their own health care decisions. Illinois law permits pregnant minors to make all other medical decisions - even those involving far greater risk than a safe, legal abortion - without involving a parent or going to court. A pregnant minor can decide to continue her pregnancy and give birth, can consent to far riskier medical care, such as a cesarean section, and can place her child for adoption, all without involving a parent.

If our government and the courts really care about our teenage sons and daughters, it should focus on giving them the information they need to make responsible decisions and continue to encourage healthy family communication, not erect barriers to critical health care services.

Steve Trombley, President & CEO
Planned Parenthood of Illinois

Technorati tags: Planned Parenthood of Illinois, Parental Notification

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