Abortion access in Illinois expanded today with the end of the Parental Notice of Abortion (PNA) law. This measure required a minor seeking abortion care to notify a designated family member, often putting young people in unsafe and harmful family situations in further danger when they sought to access this health care.

“Prior to today, pregnant young people could make any medical decision without barriers except abortion. Now thankfully they have the same right to make a confidential decision about their health care as everyone else” said Emily Werth, staff attorney at the ACLU of Illinois. “Today abortion is treated just like all other forms of health care in this state.”

This end of the parental notification law comes at a pivotal moment in the fight for abortion rights. A draft opinion leaked from the Supreme Court early this month suggests a majority of Justices are poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, eliminating access to abortion in much of the country. A number of states are rushing to pass – or preparing to enforce previously adopted – bans on abortion if Roe falls. 

The Parental Notice of Abortion Act has been enforced in Illinois since 2013. During that time the ACLU of Illinois has run the Judicial Bypass Coordination Project which ensured that those effected by the law were still able to access abortion care in this state. Volunteers helped operate a hotline to answer questions on the law and provide resources, and pro bono attorneys and ACLU staff represented minors who needed to get a waiver from a court in order to have an abortion without forced family involvement.

“During the nearly nine years the harmful law was in effect we helped more than 625 young people get the court approval they unfortunately needed to have an abortion. Only one of our client’s judicial bypass waiver requests was ever denied by a judge. All people, regardless of their age, know what decision is best for them. And everyone should have the right to decide for themselves,” Werth added.

The measure taking effect today is HB370 – the Youth Health and Safety Act. The bill which repeals the Parental Notice of Abortion Act was sponsored by Senator Elgie Sims and Representative Anna Moeller, and was approved by the General Assembly in October of 2021, and signed into law by Governor JB Pritzker in December 2021.