NCYL and other amici curiae submitted a brief to the Illinois Supreme Court in support of the plaintiffs in Hope Clinic for Women, Ltd. v. Adams. Plaintiffs, represented by the ACLU of Illinois, brought suit to challenge the constitutionality of an Illinois law requiring parental notification before a minor may obtain an abortion. The law, the Parental Notice of Abortion Act, requires a minor to notify a parent prior to obtaining an abortion unless she falls within certain limited exceptions. Amici focus on the Actís two main exceptions, that the adolescent must either (1) declare in writing to a physician that she is the victim of abuse or neglect by an adult family member, and obtain the physician's certification that he or she has received the declaration, or (2) go to court and obtain a judicial waiver of the notification requirement.
The amicus brief, written by the Chicago-based law firm SNR Denton, seeks to help the court understand the lives of young women who experience unintended pregnancies. The brief contends that the exceptions in the law fail, as a practical matter, to provide viable alternatives to pregnant teens who decide not to notify a parent. Given authoritative studies demonstrating that most minors do not disclose incidents of sexual abuse, whether in the past or ongoing, it's unreasonable to expect that minors who are victims of abuse will disclose such abuse to health care providers in order to obtain an abortion.
The judicial waiver exception is also deeply problematic. A minor may be dissuaded from pursuing the waiver by any of a number of factors, including lack of transportation to the courthouse and lack of confidence in the legal system.
The brief also argues that the Illinois law likely makes teenagers less willing to access sexual health services due to concerns over confidentiality. This directly undermines efforts by a number of amici to provide comprehensive family planning and sexual health services.
Oral argument before the Illinois Supreme Court is scheduled for September 20.
Along with NCYL and SNR Denton, amici in this case include the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation; the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless; Healthy Teen Network; the Illinois Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers; the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault; the National Association of Social Workers; the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law; Teen Living Programs; Uhlich Childrenís Advantage Network; and The Womenís Center, Inc.