The Danger of Parental Notification of Abortion Laws

August 20, 2014

There was a 16-year-old girl named Gabby, and she ended up getting pregnant,” a young woman’s voice begins to tell us. Her words are set to beats and rhymes on a SoundCloud recording produced by the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health (ICAH), a Chicago nonprofit that supports youth accessing reproductive and queer justice. Her story continues, “She knew that if she told her parents, that her parents were gonna make her keep the child. So, she decided to go and get an unsafe abortion. What ended up happening was, I don’t know the exact complications that she had, but she did have complications from the unsafe abortion, and ended up dying.”

The word ‘dying’ delivers a chilling echo in the teen’s voice. The young woman, Amber*, reminds us that Gabby didn’t have to meet such a horrible death if she were able to access safe healthcare – if there weren’t laws barring her access to care from a licensed, quality abortion provider.

August 15th marks the one-year anniversary of Illinois’ enforcement of the Parental Notification of Abortion Law of 1995, which requires an abortion provider to notify a parent or guardian of a youth within 48 hours of their abortion. The law was originally passed in 1995, but was caught up in court battles for years. Last summer, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that the law could be applied to young people, 17 and younger.


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