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New court fight underway over Ill. parental notice law

The Illinois Supreme Court building in Springfield, Ill.
(via Flickr/lilhelen)
The Illinois Supreme Court building in Springfield, Ill.

Brian Mackey contributed reporting for this story.

A decades-long battle over an Illinois law that requires girls to notify their parents before having an abortion was in front of the state's Supreme Court on Thursday.

The parental notification law has been on the books since the 1990s, but a series of federal and state court challenges have kept it from being enforced. It was supposed to take effect in 2006, which set off a fresh round of lawsuits.

In the latest case, the American Civil Liberties Union is asking the high court to reinstate a challenge to the law. The ACLU is arguing that the law is based on the flawed premise that abortion is so dangerous that parental consent is required.

"The plaintiff's allegation shows that abortion is far safer from a physical perspective than carrying a pregnancy to term," said ACLU attorney Lorie Chaiten. "Indeed, it is one of the safest procedures in contemporary medicine, safer than having an injection of penicillin."

The ACLU never got to make these arguments at a lower court trial because a judge relied on a U.S. Supreme Court decision that said parental notification laws were okay under the federal constitution.

But the ACLU argues the Illinois Constitution has special privacy and gender equality protections.