The State of abortion in Illinois and road to repeal the Parental Notification Act

By Jamilah Lewis, Staff Reporter

The repeal of the Parental Notification Act is the next push the Illinois legislature is doing to make reproductive healthcare accessible as possible to young people.

The Illinois Parental Notice of Abortion Act of 1995 states, “Parental consultation is usually in the best interest of the minor and is desirable since the capacity to become pregnant and the capacity for mature judgment concerning the wisdom of an abortion are not necessarily related.”

If a minor 17 or younger seeks abortion services they must notify a parent or guardian unless a judge gives them a waiver, according to the Planned Parenthood website and Illinois state law.

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Since the PNA became law in 2013, it has made it harder for young people to get the reproductive healthcare they need.

Legal Fellow of reproductive rights Davina Rae Dipaolo has represented around 10 young people in court since the beginning of this year and said the majority of young people want to involve a parent in the decision, but don’t have family members that qualify under the law.

“A lot of them are in fear of being kicked out of their home,” Dipaolo said. “A lot of the young people that come to us have parents that have [a] very strong religious opposition to abortion, and so they fear that they would be forced to continue the pregnancy against their will because their parents just do not believe in abortion.”

The fear of losing their caregiver and breaking their relationship with parents who may be opposed to abortion bring up concerns about shelter and well-being, Dipaolo said.

State representative Kelly Cassidy (IL-14) said the statutes around abortion in Illinois don’t depict it as a healthcare service.

“They reflected a fundamental bias because unlike every other healthcare procedure known to man,  […] the laws concerning abortion were all contained on our criminal code,” Cassidy said. “So it’s a combination of addressing this fundamental brokenness of our statutes, and moving this healthcare-related topic into the healthcare-related sections of our code.”

Even with former president Trump out of office, the damage is done to the court and the risk of losing Roe v. Wade still stands, Cassidy said.

In the spring of 2019, the Reproductive Healthcare Act was passed ensuring reproductive healthcare is protected in the state. The newly elected women pushed to get the law passed in the legislature, Cassidy said. 

“The bulk of our freshman class were newly elected women and those women came down with a mission,” Cassidy said. “They were elected in the aftermath of the Trump election and they weren’t taking no for an answer.”

Illinois State Representative Anna Moeller of the 43rd district said they’re seeing the states abusing a Republican majority in the supreme court to limit abortion services.

“Whether it’s institutitng waiting times, or instituting incredibly high standards, unrealistic, unreasonable standards for abortion clinics,” Moeller said. “All of these restrictions that we’re seeing in midwestern states and southern states, all of these restrictions are being put in place to eventually test the legality of these restrictions at the supreme court level.”

With being on the chair of the human service committee, just this year Republicans tried to pass around 20 to 30 bills that would repeal abortion rights and require women to have a waiting period or ultrasound before having an abortion, Moeller said.

“I’m proud of the fact that Illinois protects women, trusts women, and supports women; and I was proud to be able to vote for the Reproductive Healthcare Act and we’re hoping that we can get the PNA repeal bill as well,” Moeller said.

The Judicial Bypass Project of Illinois was made to help young people who seek abortion services and represent them in court to have the PNA waiver granted.

The women’s healthcare services around campus do not offer abortion services but will recommend people to the nearest ones which are in St. Louis and Fairview Heights.

“There are a lot of pockets throughout Illinois that just don’t have an abortion clinic within a reasonable distance,” Dipaolo said. “Young people have had to travel several hours; that’s just an added challenge of being away from home and school that long.”

If or when the repeal of the Parental Notification Act is passed, young people will be able to access reproductive health care much easier, and young people wouldn’t have to worry about the effect it will have on their personal relationships.

“It would just be such a huge improvement in our access to reproductive health in young people, Dipaolo said. “The project was only created in response to the PNA enactment. So if it is repealed the nature of this project won’t be needed.”

The reproductive rights in the state of Illinois are protected, but as a nation pro-life and anti-abortion rights people still fight to limit women’s choices in their reproductive health.

In an interview by the New York Times, president of the Susan B. Anthony list Marjorie Dannenfelser talks about her work with former President Donald Trump and the push for anti-abortion rights.

The Supreme Court piece is the most important piece. But there was also a commitment to protect the Hyde Amendment, meaning no taxpayer funding of abortion,” Dannenfelser said in the interview. “That means no abortions on the national level after five months and also defunding and reallocating Planned Parenthood’s funding to other qualified health centers.”

With supreme court justice Amy Coney Barrett getting in court before the end of former President Trump’s term, it put a conservative majority in the court, which gives conservatives a better chance at Roe v. Wade.

She’s my favorite. She’s our favorite. She’s the movement’s favorite because the movement knows her,” Dannenfelser said. “ And she’s been completely vetted. We know who she is, what she’s about.”

With no specific date on when the PNA will be repealed or not, the fight to limit access or get more access to reproductive rights will be a long fight.

“It just comes down to trusting women to make the right decisions for themselves and knowing that there are many reasons why women seek having an abortion, and it’s never ever a decision that’s made lightly,” Moeller said.

Staff reporter Jamilah Lewis can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @jamilahlewisTo stay up to date with all your southern Illinois news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.

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