Illinois Supreme Court Urged to, Without Delay, Enforce Federal Law Requiring Physicians to Notify Minor’s Parents before Performing an Abortion
(08/31/09 – Chicago, IL) Today, the Thomas More Society, a public interest law firm based in Chicago, has filed in the lllinois Supreme Court an original action for “writ of mandamus,” asking the Justices to order the immediate enforcement, without further delay, of the Parental Notice of Abortion Act of 1995 (“Parental Notice Act” or “the Act”), and directing the members of the Illinois State Medical Disciplinary Board, the Acting Secretary of the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation, and the Director of the Division of Professional Regulation to expunge and negate their recommendation and order, handed down earlier this month, suspending enforcement of the Parental Notice Act for ninety days. The Society alleges that these administrative officials acted without legal authority and in defiance of legally required procedures in unilaterally announcing that they would wait three months before enforcing this duly enacted Illinois law and that their illegal action could only be remedied – on a timely basis – by the Supreme Court’s direct and immediate intervention.
The Act requires a physician to notify one of the minor’s parents (legal guardian, step-parent or grandparent living in the same household) before he or she performs an abortion upon a minor, unless the minor petitions the circuit court for a waiver of the notice requirement. Waivers may be granted if the minor can establish, in a “bypass hearing,” that she is mature enough to make a decision to obtain an abortion without notifying her parents or that notice would not be in her best interests. Enacted in 1995, the parental notice law was in legal limbo for over a decade until, on September 20, 2006, the Illinois Supreme Court adopted a rule, constitutionally required under federal law, providing for expedited, confidential “bypass” appeals. Once the new Rule 303A was adopted and after further litigation, on July 14, 2009, the United States Court of Appeals unanimously upheld the constitutionality of the Act and the Illinois Supreme Court’s implementing rule. A few weeks later, when the Court of Appeals issued its mandate, the Parental Notice Act became fully effective and enforceable.
Yet, on August 4, the members of the Illinois State Medical Disciplinary Board, which is responsible for enforcing the Parental Notice Act against physicians who willfully violate it, issued a recommendation that the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation suspend enforcement of the law for ninety days, beginning on August 5, 2009. The only stated reason was to give physicians more time to comply with the law. The very next day, this recommendation was adopted by the Acting Secretary of the Department and the Director of the Division of Professional Regulation.
The Thomas More Society’s complaint for writ of mandamus was brought on behalf of ten Illinois citizens and taxpayers, several of whom are also the parents of minor daughters of child bearing age who would want to be notified before their daughters had an abortion. The Society alleges that the defendants acted without any legal authority and, further, that their action constituted a “rule” that could not take effect without prior compliance with the notice and public comment provisions of the Illinois Administrative Procedure Act. “The performance of an abortion upon a minor in Illinois without first notifying one of her parents is illegal,” said Tom Brejcha, President & Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Society. “Physicians who perform abortions in Illinois have had fourteen years to ‘get ready’ and ‘gear up’ to implement the law, more than enough time to comply with the law. This further delay is a clear usurpation of power and an affront to the People of Illinois, the Illinois General Assembly, Governor Edgar who signed this bipartisan law and the Illinois Supreme Court which adopted Rule 303A in 2006.” The lawsuit asks the Illinois Supreme Court to enter a writ of mandamus directing the defendants to expunge their order suspending enforcement of the law and to enforce the law without further delay.
Contacts: Tom Brejcha, President & Chief Counsel, Thomas More Society (312) 782-1680, (312) 590-3408 (cell)
Tom Ciesielka, TC Public Relations (312) 422-1333 email@example.com
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About the Thomas More Society
The Thomas More Society is a public interest law firm that counsels and defends those who work to protect innocent human life, defends those who proclaim faith-based values in our nation’s public square, and strives to protect the institution of marriage as a union of man and woman formed to beget, bear and nurture new human lives. For more information, please visit: www.thomasmoresociety.org.