The Corner

Politics & Policy

Illinois to Repeal Pro-Life Parental-Involvement Law

Pro-life activists carry a banner during the 47th annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., January 24, 2020. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Last month, both the Illinois State House and the State Senate voted to repeal the state’s pro-life parental-notice law. The legislation is currently on the desk of Illinois governor J. B. Pritzker, who has indicated that he will sign the repeal measure into law.

Sadly, Illinois minors soon will be able to obtain abortions without notifying their parents. Even worse, since many Midwestern states enforce parental involvement laws, minors from nearby states are likely to seek abortions in Illinois.

The parental-involvement law in Illinois has an interesting history. It was signed into law by Republican governor Jim Edgar in 1995, but because of numerous legal challenges, the law did not take effect until August 2013.

According to the most recent data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, the number of abortions performed on minors in Illinois fell by more than 50 percent between 2012 and 2018. This is consistent with an extensive body of academic and policy research showing that parental-involvement laws reduce abortion rates among minors.

It should also be noted that these laws confer other important public-policy benefits. Peer-reviewed studies show that such laws lower teen pregnancy rates, teen suicide rates, and the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases among teens. This makes the forthcoming repeal of this Illinois law especially disappointing.

This is just the latest example of a blue state repealing a pro-life law in recent years. Both Illinois and Maine have begun paying for elective abortions through their Medicaid programs. In 2020, Massachusetts weakened its pro-life parental-involvement law, allowing 16- and 17-year-old girls to obtain abortions without parental consent. Also in 2020, Virginia repealed both its waiting-period requirement and informed-consent law.

In recent decades, the Democratic Party has significantly shifted to the left on life issues in recent years, jeopardizing the Hyde amendment at the federal level and state level pro-life laws in blue states. As always, pro-lifers would do well to be diligent.

Michael J. New is a research associate at the Busch School of Business at The Catholic University of America and is an associate scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_J_New

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