The Illinois Parental Notice of Abortion Act, which requires that an adult family member must be notified before a minor can obtain an abortion, went into effect in 2013. There are some exceptions to this requirement of parental notice, including when a minor obtains a court waiver (sometimes called a “judicial bypass”) in an expedited and confidential proceeding. A little over two years after the Parental Notice of Abortion Act went into effect, the Chicago Tribune spoke with ACLU of Illinois attorneys who represent minors in these judicial bypass cases about the process:
The judges face two questions: Is the young woman mature enough to make the decision without involving her parents? Is it in her best interests that a parent or family member not be told? If the answer to either is yes, the law directs the judge to grant the waiver.
But multiple, complex emotions can be at play.
For the young woman, the hearing is a high-stakes proceeding that requires them to answer deeply intimate questions.
“It is a traumatic experience for them,” [Lorie Chaiten, director of the ACLU's Reproductive Rights Project,] said.
“There isn't really a typical situation,” said Emily Werth, staff attorney for the ACLU's Judicial Bypass Coordination Project, who has represented about two dozen young women.
They may fear they will be beaten or sexually or emotionally abused, according to lawyers. Some are afraid they will be kicked out of the house or cut off financially. Some have parents who oppose abortion and fear they might try to stop them. They have no legal authority to deny permission, Werth said, “but there's a lot parents can do, practically, to prevent their child from going forward with an abortion.”