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Illinois Supreme Court: Girls under 17 must inform parents if aborting


Antiabortion protesters gathered outside a clinic in  Granite City, Ill., in March 2011. (AP)

The Illinois Supreme Court is allowing the state to enforce a 1995 law that requires doctors to notify parents of girls under 17 years old if their daughter is undergoing an abortion at least two days before the procedure. The law has been disputed since its passage and has been enforceable until now.

In the court's majority opinion, Justice Anne Burke said Illinois "has an interest in ensuring that a minor is sufficiently mature and well-informed to make the difficult decision whether to have an abortion."

The Catholic Conference of Illinois celebrated the ruling. “With this ruling, parents across the state and the Midwest can breathe a sigh of relief with the knowledge that state law finally allows them to fully parent their children, and safeguard their lives and those of the unborn,” said Robert Gilligan, executive director of the Catholic Conference of Illinois.

Abortion-rights supporters criticized the ruling, saying that some teens might not feel safe in telling their parents about a pregnancy.

Planned Parenthood said in a statement that it "agrees that in an ideal world, parents would be involved in their teens’ health care and engaged in healthy dialogue around responsible decision making. But in some cases, safe and open communication is not possible."

The statement added: “While we believe the Illinois Parental Notice of Abortion Act puts the health and safety of teens at unnecessary risk, Planned Parenthood of Illinois is committed to doing everything we can to make this new process as easy as possible for teens if the law goes into effect.”

Several state legislatures have been doing battle over the issue of abortion in recent months, with lawmakers submitting measures to place tighter restrictions on the procedure. In North Carolina, a bill to limit abortions is being debated, though Republican Gov. Pat McCrory said he would veto it. On Friday, the Texas Senate will vote on a bill to put limits on abortions including making it illegal to abort a fetus after 20 weeks of gestation.

Ruth Tam is a writer based in Washington, D.C., where she web produces for The Kojo Nnamdi Show.

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