From August 15 2013, to June 1 2022 the Parental Notice of Abortion Act (PNA) was enforced in Illinois. PNA was a type of parental involvement law that deters young people from seeking an abortion by forcing them to involve an adult family member or making them go through a court process in order to have access to this health care.
The Illinois Parental Notice of Abortion Act required individuals under 18 to notify a parent, grandparent, step-parent who lives with them, or legal guardian about their decision to have an abortion. If they could not notify one of these adult family members, or fit a narrow set of exceptions, they were forced to go to court and answer questions in front of a judge to show that they were mature and well-enough informed to make this decision on their own or that having to involve an adult family member was not in their best interest.
Data has shown that young people who feel safe doing so will involve a trusted adult in making this decision. These forced parental involvement laws impact those who are in precarious or dangerous situations – fearing physical or emotional abuse, getting kicked out of the house, or being forced to continue a pregnancy against their wishes. These laws also further the notion that abortion is not a legitimate form of health care. In Illinois, once a young person is pregnant, they have the right to consent to all health care procedures without parental involvement – except for abortion when PNA was in effect. They could also make the decision to parent or choose adoption without ever involving or notifying an adult family member.
The law was originally passed in the Illinois legislature in 1995, and the ACLU immediately went to court and kept this law from going into effect until the summer of 2013. When the law went into effect, we set up the Judicial Bypass Coordination Project, a project staffed by volunteers, pro bono attorneys and ACLU of Illinois staff that operated a hotline to answer questions about the law and provided free attorneys for young people who needed to go to court in order to access an abortion throughout the state.
In October of 2021, the Illinois General Assembly approved HB 370 – the Youth Safe and Healthy Act, which repealed PNA and set up an advisory working group to identify resources to youth.
With PNA no longer law as of June 1, 2022 young people now have the same right to make confidential decisions about having an abortion, and are no longer required to go to court to access an abortion.
During the almost 9 years the Judicial Bypass Coordination Project was in operation:
- Over 125 hotline volunteers trained
- Over 100 pro bono attorneys trained
- Over 1,400 hotline inquiries received
- Over 625 judicial bypass waivers granted
- Only 1 waiver request denied