"The Only People It Really Affects Are The People It Hurts": The Human Rights Consequences of Parental Notice of Abortion in Illinois

March 11, 2021

Update: As of June 2022, the Parental Notice of Abortion Act (PNA) has been repealed. Minors are no longer required to notify an adult family member in order to access an abortion in Illinois.


Seven years ago, Illinois began enforcing the Parental Notice of Abortion Act, requiring young people under 18 to notify a designated adult family member before they can access abortion care in this state. Young people who cannot tell one of these adult family members about their abortion must go before a judge to get a “judicial bypass” waiver in order to have the procedure without the forced involvement of others.

Since the law went into effect, the ACLU of Illinois has operated the Judicial Bypass Coordination Project to provide assistance and legal representation to youth having to navigate this law around the state.

Human Rights Watch and the ACLU of Illinois have collaborated on a report assessing, through a human rights perspective, the impact of the Parental Notice of Abortion Act on young people’s access to abortion in Illinois. A researcher for Human Rights Watch interviewed 37 people – including health care providers, pro bono attorneys, Judicial Bypass Coordination Project hotline volunteers, and youth advocates – about how the law effects the young people who are forced to navigate an unfamiliar court system or involve an unsupportive family member in their abortion decision. The report also examines information collected by our Judicial Bypass Coordination Project about young people who have gone through the judicial bypass process.

Human Rights Watch concluded that the Illinois Parental Notice of Abortion Act is in violation of human rights law. The report recommends that Illinois state legislators act swiftly to repeal this harmful law.


Find out more:

Listen to our Talking Liberties Podcast episode


Watch A Video on PNA

Find out more about the Judicial Bypass Coordination Project