Sunday, July 26, 2009
JURIST: Abortion Parental Notice Laws: Irrational, Unnecessary and Downright Dangerous, by Caitlin Borgmann:
On July 14, in Zbaraz v. Madigan, the Seventh Circuit lifted a permanent injunction that had prevented enforcement of Illinois’ parental notice for abortion law since its enactment in 1995. The decision hinged on an arcane question of state procedural law, and the opinion did not break new legal ground on the abortion issue. What is noteworthy about the decision, then, is precisely what for many might seem mundane: Illinois will now join the ranks of 34 other states in enforcing some kind of parental involvement requirement before a teenager can obtain an abortion. The court emphasized the unexceptional nature of its decision, noting that “[m]any, if not all of the concerns first raised against parental involvement laws in the 1970s and early 1980s have been addressed” in laws like Illinois’.
This soothing language, however, obscures the fact that a substantial majority of states blithely impose what are in reality irrational laws that impose appalling burdens on the teenagers who are least able to consult with their parents about their pregnancies. States continue to enforce these restrictions despite evidence that they do not serve their intended purpose, and are unnecessary for most teens and downright dangerous for others. It is worth a pause to reflect on these laws that now seem scarcely to merit a yawn from the courts....