The ACLU of Illinois has been fighting for reproductive freedom and for vulnerable teens for nearly 40 years. Unfortunately, we lost a round in our battle against compelled parental involvement in a teen's decision to have an abortion.
Today, Cook County Circuit Court Judge Daniel A. Riley ruled against us in our state constitutional challenge to the Illinois Parental Notice of Abortion Act. Importantly, the Judge also continued the restraining order in the case - thus continuing to block the law's enforcement -- until the ACLU of Illinois is able to appeal his decision. This means that the law will not be enforced until the appeals court can consider the matter.
The ACLU filed this state litigation after a federal appeals court lifted a decades-old injunction based on federal constitutional law. We filed this lawsuit on behalf of medical providers and their teen patients because we believe that the Illinois Parental Notice of Abortion Act violates state constitutional guarantees of privacy, equal protection, and due process of law.
We went back to court today to receive the Judge's ruling on the state's motion for judgment on the pleadings, which would dispose of our lawsuit without an evidentiary trial. Lamenting that the Illinois Parental Notice of Abortion Act was an unfortunate law that would harm teens at risk of abuse, Judge Riley nonetheless granted State's motion. Judge Riley recognized that the Illinois Constitution, like its federal counterpart, protects the right of a woman to choose to terminate a pregnancy but that the Illinois right of reproductive autonomy was not broader than the federal right. The judge went on to conclude that under Illinois decisional law, plaintiffs mounting a pre-enforcement facial challenge to a state law must show that the law would be unconstitutional in every application. Given the fact that some teens would not be harmed by the Parental Notice law, plaintiffs' facial challenge could not go forward and he would grant defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings.
In the wake of today's ruling, we are reviewing our legal options, including an appeal of the Judge's decision. We note that the Judge was careful and blunt in describing the Illinois law as "unfortunate," and in noting that enforcement of the Act will result in horrible outcomes for some young women, including "physical and emotional abuse." However, the Judge ruled in favor of the State because he did not believe that the law would be harmful in every incident where a pregnant minor was compelled to notify a parent of her decision to terminate a pregnancy.
We will move swiftly to take all necessary action so that the real threat of abuse so clearly identified by the Judge can be avoided.