EDITORIAL: Abortion is no minor matter

Parental notice is a right in Illinois and everywhere else

It’s monstrous to suggest abortions should be easier for minors to procure than other surgical procedures. Enter the American Civil Liberties Union. After losing in federal court, the ACLU has found new ways to delay a 1995 Illinois law requiring parental (or legal guardian) notification before subjecting minors to abortion. Americans United for Life has come to the rescue with a new “friend of the court” brief.

American law doesn’t ordinarily confer full autonomy on minors. As the “Encyclopedia of Everyday Law” explains, “In general, for most medical procedures, the parent or legal guardian of the minor still has to grant consent in order for the procedure to be performed. While the state can challenge a parent’s decision to refuse medically necessary treatment and can in some cases win the authority to make medical decisions on behalf of the child, the minor can not make his or her own medical decisions.”

That’s plan old-fashioned common sense. As the U.S. Supreme Court explained in Roper v. Simmons (2005), “Minors possess a lack of maturity and an underdeveloped sense of responsibility,” which result in “impetuous and ill-considered actions and decisions.”

Nonetheless, even after the Illinois law was upheld by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the ACLU - on behalf of the Hope Clinic for Women in Granite City, Ill. - filed suit in state court to block the law. The ACLU said the law offends the state constitution if not the U.S. Constitution, and, “There is no justification” for the law. Absurdly, the ACLU asserts, “Minors seeking abortion services independently of their parents are sufficiently mature to provide informed consent.”

Americans United for Life (AUL), filing on behalf of eight Illinois legislators, made mincemeat of this argument. Citing study after study, the lawmakers showed abortions cause even more serious long-term health problems for minors than adults. Beyond the obvious mental or emotional health ramifications, it’s proven that minors are at significantly greater risk than adults of cervical lacerations during abortions, of post-abortion infections such as pelvic inflammatory disease and endometritis, and of physical problems with later pregnancies.

AUL’s brief even cited studies from the nation’s leading abortion provider, Planned Parenthood: “The Guttmacher Institute - Planned Parenthood’s research wing - has acknowledged that because minors are less likely than adults to take prescribed antibiotics or follow other regimens of treatment, they are at greater risk for subsequent miscarriage, infertility, hysterectomy and other serious complications.”

In 2009, the 7th Circuit made clear there is zero doubt “the state has an important interest in the welfare of its children that justifies regulation of the abortion of minors that would not be upheld if applied to adult women.” The decision upholding the law was written by Judge Richard D. Cudahy, who was appointed by liberal President Carter.

Thirty-one states have parental-notice laws, which reflects the obvious fact that minors deserve adult care, attention and advice in difficult situations. The ACLU should drop the case and allow Illinois minors the same humane protection they get across the country.

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