SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (NEXSTAR) — The Illinois Senate voted 32-22 to repeal the Parental Notification Act on Tuesday night despite pleas from clergy to keep the 1995 measure on the lawbooks. Five senators did not vote.
“These laws exist to protect the rights of parents to fulfill the duty that God has entrusted to them, and that no government can take away,” Bishop Thomas John Paprocki of the Springfield Diocese said at a Tuesday afternoon press conference.
Many conservatives see the parental notification laws as the last remaining regulation or requirement in the state that might prompt a parent to intervene and persuade a teen girl not to go through with an abortion.
“Young children should not have to make these major medical decisions and emotional decisions alone without the support of people who are meant to care for them,” Senator Sue Rezin (R-Morris) said during debate on the Senate floor. “There has to be a line,” she said. “This is the line. Protect it.”
Paprocki predicted Illinois would see “drastically” more abortions if the law is repealed. He joined with other pastors from the Chicago region who traveled to Springfield on a bus to rally against the push to repeal the law.
“The number of minors getting an abortion has gone down since the notification law went into effect,” he said. “Now, isn’t that a good thing?”
Many of the pastors support further restrictions on abortions. Pastor Calvin Lindstrom of Christian Liberty in Arlington Heights said he supports the recent abortion restrictions passed in Texas, and would like to see Illinois move in that direction. “I support it,” Lindstrom said. “I think it could go further to be honest with you.” He said he supports banning abortion even in cases of rape or incest.
The push to restrict abortion access in Texas and other red states ignited Democrats’ recent push to make a statement and remove any semblance of a barrier to abortion in Illinois.
Senator Darren Bailey (R-Louisville), who is running in the Republican primary for a chance to challenge Governor Pritzker in 2022, urged Democrats to “put aside any agenda or message that you may want to send to another state for passing pro-life legislation.”
“We are not here to compete with California and New York on who can be the most pro-abortion state,” Bailey said on the Senate floor.
The current law allows minors to seek a court waiver of the parental notification law if their parent or guardian is their abuser, or if the notification might put them in danger. Advocates for repealing the law argued that teen girls shouldn’t have to endure the complications of the court process at the same time as they’re going through the difficult medical procedure.
“We are trying to protect those who cannot stand up for themselves,” Senator Elgie Sims (D-Chicago) said. “Those who cannot turn to a trusted adult and say, ‘I am in trouble. I need guidance.'”
“Think about a young person who is walking to the doors of the courthouse, and going into the courthouse and engaging one of the most difficult conversations, period,” Sims said. He argued that teen girls shouldn’t have to go “to a complete stranger and [ask] that complete stranger to have to delve into their personal lives.”
Sims encouraged Republicans to “walk in the shoes of young people who do not have healthy family relationships.”
“You’re talking about compulsory birth,” Sims shot back at Republicans. “You’re talking about forcing someone into a condition where someone has the ability to determine if their child has a baby or not.”
The controversial proposal now heads to the Illinois House, where some progressive Democrats are still on the fence about whether or not they may vote to repeal.
“I think parents do have a right to know,” Rep. Carol Ammons (D-Urbana) said on Tuesday afternoon. “This, the PNA, is a legal thing that is very complicated. A lot of our members are not sold that this is the thing that we need to do yet.”
Several other House Democrats have declined to answer questions from reporters about the proposal.
Governor J.B. Pritzker has signaled his support for repealing the law, and would likely sign it into law if the House approves it before the General Assembly leaves town this week.