(VIDEO) Parental Notification in Illinois: Forcing Young Women Into Harm’s Way

Sally Burgess

While Illinois has a mandatory parental involvement law on the books, it has long been enjoined. I have seen firsthand the harms that forced parental involvement impose on young women.

While Illinois has a mandatory parental involvement law on
the books, it has long been enjoined. Thus, a young woman in Illinois who is capable of making her own
abortion decision can do so with the guidance of her health care provider and
other trusted adults. Young women are not forced to involve their parents when they
do not feel safe doing so. However, the
state is aggressively seeking to end that court protection for young women and
to enforce the Illinois Parental Notification of Abortion Act.

It is
imperative to put an end to the threat of parental notification in Illinois,
and to work to eliminate similar laws across the country.  

I have seen firsthand the harms that forced parental
involvement impose on young women. My
first clinic position in this field was as a counselor in Colorado before that
state adopted parental notification. Every
weekend I would counsel young women from the neighboring state of Utah, who had
lied to their parents, borrowed money, found often unreliable transportation, and
driven long hours on strange highways and interstates to get to our clinic. It
was not unusual to arrive at the clinic and find the young woman and the person
who had traveled with her sleeping in a car.

They certainly didn’t have money for lodging and scarcely
enough for food. However, they so feared
for their safety and their future that they were willing to go to extreme
measures to avoid being forced to involve their parents in their unintended
pregnancy. These young women feared
being beaten or thrown out of their homes if their parents learned they were
pregnant.

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Granted, there are young women who voluntarily tell their
parents; in fact, many young women come to our clinic with their mothers.
Unfortunately, however, not all teens live in this reality. For those who would
not otherwise tell a parent, these laws can impose irreversible physical and
psychological harms. The health and well being of these young women depends on putting an end to these dangerous laws.

In the following video, Lorie Chaiten of the ACLU discusses parental
notification laws in Illinois.

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