On July 11, 2013, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled in The Hope Clinic for Women, Ltd., v. Flores, 2013 IL 112673 (July 11, 2013) Cook Co. (BURKE) that the Illinois Parental Notification of Abortion Act (Act) is valid and should be implemented across the state. It is important for medical providers to fully understand the Act and the steps that must be taken to comply with it.
This Act has been a matter of scrutiny for the past 18 years. The 2009 decision by the federal court 7th circuit to uphold the Act was challenged by the plaintiffs under Illinois Law, specifically whether the Act was constitutional in accordance with the 1970 Illinois Constitution. The Illinois Courts ruled that the decision of the 7th Circuit to uphold the Act could not collaterally estop the plaintiffs to objecting to the implementation under Illinois state law. Nonetheless, the Illinois Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the validity of the Act in accordance with Illinois law. In its ruling the court found that:
- The right to prevent state disclosure of medical information is protected by the privacy clause, and the key inquiry is whether the intrusion of privacy as to a minor is unreasonable.
- Privacy is not an absolute right; only unreasonable invasions of privacy are forbidden.
- The state has an interest in ensuring minors are sufficiently well-informed and to encourage minors to seek the support of a parent or other interested adult, or to require her to prove her maturity in obtaining a judicial waiver of the notice requirement in a confidential and expedited sealed judicial procedure.
- Constitutional rights of minors are not coextensive with the rights of adults.
- Parents have a constitutional right to raise their children; the guiding role of parents in raising their children justifies limits on the freedoms of minors.
- Illinois law supports that parents have a constitutional right to guide and raise their children that competed with the right to a minor’s privacy and both competing rights were considered by the legislature in carefully crafting the Act.
- There was no violation of the gender equality clause of the Illinois Constitution.