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Supporters relieved, opponents appalled over repeal of state's parental-notice abortion law

Daily Herald

Friday, October 29, 2021  |  Article  |  Barbara Vitello

Abortion (1)

Reaction to Wednesday's late-night news that the Illinois House of Representatives voted to repeal the 1995 Parental Notice of Abortion Act ranged from relief to outrage Thursday.

A representative of the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois described it as a "good development for young people in Illinois."

"Most young people talk to a parent about an abortion decision," ACLU spokesperson Ed Yohnka said. "That was true before the (parental notification) law was enforced. It was true while the law was enforced. And it will be true when it's finally repealed."

Amy Gehrke, executive director of Illinois Right to Life, disagreed, saying she was "shocked and appalled" at legislators' actions in response to the current law, which she said has widespread support.

"This was a common-sense law that required abortion providers to simply notify parents 48 hours before their minor daughter had an abortion," Gehrke said. "This was an issue that transcended abortion and went to the heart of parents' right to be involved in the health care of their minor daughters."

The House approved the repeal in a 62-51 vote largely along party lines, with 3 representatives voting present and 2 not voting. One day earlier, the Senate passed the bill in a 32-22 vote. It now awaits Gov. J.B. Pritzker's signature.

Pritzker has expressed support for repealing the law, which went into effect in 2013 after years of litigation.

"We're talking about young people who don't have a parent or a trusted adult to talk to for myriad reasons," Yohnka said. "That we're not putting obstacles in their way is a good thing."

In 2018, the latest year for which the Illinois Department of Public Health lists statistics on its website, a total of 42,441 abortions were performed on 36,713 residents, 5,668 on nonresidents and 60 on those whose residency was unknown. Of those, 1,092 abortions were performed on minors, according to the IDPH.

By comparison in 2013, when the Parental Notice of Abortion Act took effect, the IDPH reported 1,762 minors had abortions out of a total of 40,750.

Rep. Tom Morrison, a Palatine Republican, echoed Gehrke in his opposition to the bill, calling it a "slap in the face to parents and a grave harm to Illinois girls and those from neighboring states," who he says will come to Illinois to avoid their own state's laws.

"The state has prohibited these same girls from getting ear piercings, tattoos, smoking, buying lottery tickets or even visiting indoor tanning salons because they are deemed not mature enough to understand the consequences of their decisions," Morrison said. "Getting pregnant as a minor is a very serious matter, just as getting a surgical or chemical abortion as a minor is a very serious matter. In either case, parents have a right to know what's going on with their children."

Rep. Anna Moeller, the Elgin Democrat who sponsored the House version of the bill, said opponents engaged in "misleading and hyperbolic rhetoric."

Responding to claims that repealing the notification law interferes with parents' rights, Moeller referenced her relationship with her teenage daughters.

"I have worked since the day they were born to develop a relationship with them, where they trust me, where they can come to me and talk to me about what is going on in their life," Moeller said. "This bill is not about them. This bill is not about your children. This bill is about the children in our state who live in such dangerous family situations."

• Capitol News Illinois contributed to this report.

Roll call

How suburban state House members voted on the repeal of the abortion notification law:

Yes: Jonathan Carroll, Northbrook Democrat; Deb Conroy, Villa Park Democrat; Terra Costa Howard, Glen Ellyn Democrat; Daniel Didech, Buffalo Grove Democrat; Robyn Gable, Evanston Democrat; Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz, Glenview Democrat; Barbara Hernandez, Aurora Democrat; Maura Hirschauer, Batavia Democrat; Stephanie Kifowit, Oswego Democrat; Joyce Mason, Gurnee Democrat; Rita Mayfield, Waukegan Democrat; Anna Moeller, Elgin Democrat; Bob Morgan, Deerfield Democrat; Michelle Mussman, Schaumburg Democrat; Suzanne Ness, Crystal Lake Democrat; Anne Stava-Murray, Naperville Democrat; Mark Walker, Arlington Heights Democrat; Kathleen Willis, Addison Democrat; Janet Yang-Rohr, Naperville Democrat; Sam Yingling, Grayslake Democrat.

No: Chris Bos, Lake Zurich Republican; Jim Durkin, Western Springs Republican; Amy Grant, Wheaton Republican; Seth Lewis, Bartlett Republican; Deanne Mazzochi, Elmhurst Republican; Martin McLaughlin, Barrington Hills Republican; Tom Morrison, Palatine Republican; Steven Reick, Woodstock Republican; Bradley Stephens, Rosemont Republican; Dan Ugaste, Geneva Republican; Tom Weber, Lake Villa Republican; Keith Wheeler, Oswego Republican.

Present: Fred Crespo, Hoffman Estates Democrat.

Not voting: Martin Moylan, Des Plaines Democrat.