What is PNA?
Parental Notification of Abortion (PNA) is a law that harms young people in Illinois. PNA mandates that people 17 years old and younger who decide to have an abortion must notify an adult family member at least 48 hours in advance of the procedure.
Though parents/caretakers need not provide their consent, PNA can and does put young people in danger. Research shows that while most youth who have abortions do tell an adult, young people who would not otherwise have involved their parents/caretakers are the ones most likely to suffer negative and harmful consequences. Click on the images to the right to read stories submitted by youth.
We believe that all young people deserve to be safe. We believe in young people's capacity to make decisions. We believe that we must trust youth.
+ An Overview
Any person 17 or younger seeking access to abortion services in the state of Illinois without having an adult family member notified by a doctor might have to go to court to get a judicial waiver of the notification requirement (i.e., judicial bypass). Read "Parental Notification: What to Do?" on the Huffington Post.
History has shown that people will access abortion by any means necessary. We need to ensure that young people access safe procedures performed by medical providers. Due to the stigma and shame of abortion, along with troubling parental/home/abusive circumstances suffered by at least a third of youth, it is imperative that young people have unfettered access to abortion.
While research shows that most young people do consult a parent or caring adult before accessing abortion, the ACLU of IL and ICAH are working to help young people who are unable to do so (for safety, confidentiality, or any other reason) obtain access to a judicial bypass of parental notification.
While a young person can have an abortion without getting the consent (permission) of a parent, grandparent, or legal guardian, the Illinois Parental Notice of Abortion (PNA) law requires their medical provider to notify an adult family member (someone over 21 who is your parent, grandparent, step-parent who lives with the young person, or a legal guardian) 48 hours before performing the abortion. They do not have to tell anyone if:
- Either parent, any grandparent, a step-parent who lives with the young person, or a legal guardian goes to the doctor with the young person.
- Either parent, any grandparent, a step-parent who lives with the young person, or a legal guardian gives up their right to notice in writing.
- The young person gives their medical provider a written statement that says they are a victim of sexual abuse, neglect or physical abuse by either parent, any grandparent, a step-parent who lives with the young person or a legal guardian. If they provide a written statement, be aware that their medical provider may be required to report the abuse or neglect to the Department of Children and Family Services after the abortion.
- The doctor decides that there is a medical emergency.
- The young person is married, divorced, or widowed. They must be at least 16 and have consent from both parents in order to get married in Illinois.
- They are emancipated. Their petition for emancipation must have been approved by a judge because they are at least 16 and can show that they are mature enough to manage their own affairs or they are a homeless minor in Illinois and fully or mostly independent of their parents or guardian.
- The young person gets a parental notice waiver from the court after a successful “judicial bypass” hearing. A young person can choose to notify whichever adult family member (someone who is your parent, grandparent, step-parent who lives with you, or a legal guardian) they want to.
+ What is "notification"?
Notification means informing. The law does not require that an adult family member give consent (permission) for the young person to have an abortion. If a young person tells an adult family member and they disagree with the decision, the young person can still have the abortion.
If a young person decides to notify an adult family member, their clinic or doctor can give notice to the adult family member:
- In person
- By phone
- By certified mail (only if notice in person or by phone is not possible after reasonable effort). If a young person is unable or unwilling to tell an adult family member about their decision to have an abortion, they can request a “judicial bypass“ from the court.
A young person should never give false information as a way to get out of the “parental notice” requirement.
+ What can you do?
- Sign the petition!
- Contact your state legislator about your concerns.
- Join the #StopPNA campaign on social media by sharing a story, thought, or opinion using the hashtag #StopPNA!
- Provide youth and adult accomplices with materials and information to connect them with the Judicial Bypass Coordination Project.
- In order to best protect the health and safety of youth in Illinois, we at ICAH are working diligently in collaboration with the ACLU of IL and other groups throughout the state. We're also working directly with young people to share stories and raise awareness about the harm these restrictions place on young people. Every donation in any amount serves to make our communities safer, more affirming, and ultimately healthier places for young people to thrive. A donation made to ICAH directly supports the health, rights, and identities of youth across the state of Illinois. Donate to ICAH!
+ Need help?
The Illinois Bypass Coordination Project can help Monday through Friday 5:00-10:00 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 12:00-7:30 p.m.
- Hotline: 877-44-BYPASS
- Text: 312-560-6607
To help any young people and answer questions about the Parental Notice Act, the Judicial Bypass Coordination Project Hotline will be available to provide free, confidential assistance. A trained hotline staff member can answer questions and, if the pregnant minor wants, connect them with a specially trained, free lawyer to help with a judicial bypass.
Outside of those times, they may still call the hotline and leave a message. A staff member will return their call as soon as possible if they leave a callback number and safe time to call back.
A young person can also send a text message to 312-560-6607 or email firstname.lastname@example.org anytime.
Check out and share this helpful website: http://ilbypasscoordinationproject.org
Like the ACLU of Illinois' Judicial Bypass Page on Facebook to stay updated: https://www.facebook.com/ilbypasscoordinationproject
"Illinois Youth Leaders Campaign to Repeal Parental Notification of Abortion (PNA) Law" by Tiffany Pryor. Repro Health Watch, National Partnership for Women & Families. July 14, 2015.
We’ve been working to raise awareness among Illinois residents and legislators, especially by centering the voices of young people. Youth say they usually seek out a trusted adult for support when they need an abortion, but it’s not always a parent. Every young person is in a different situation when they seek abortion care.
"Alabama's New Law Will Let Fetuses Have Lawyers" by Dani McClain. The Nation. October 9, 2014.
Hernandez, who is mother to a teenager, said she's often asked how she can oppose laws that serve to "strengthen" families. "I'm pro-parent but anti-parental notice," she said, and pointed out that too many families lack a culture in which teenagers feel they can speak to adults about sex and not be judged. And given the real dangers some teens face at the hands of their guardians? "I think that young people should be able to make decisions about their bodies without being forced to notify," she said.
"The Danger of Parental Notification of Abortion Laws" by Renee Bracey Sherman. EBONY. August 20, 2014.
Young people are resilient. They can and do and already are making smart decisions about their bodies each and every day. Why are we enacting laws that put them in harms way and create unnecessary barriers to health care? No matter how anyone feels about abortion, I can’t imagine that we as a society think it’s better to send our young people into harm’s way and force them to become a parent when they aren’t ready to, rather than give them access to the safe healthcare they deserve.
"OP-ED: Warning: These States May Be Harmful To Your Health" by Yamani Hernandez. Progress Illinois. August 12, 2014.
This month marks one year since the implementation of the forced parental notification of abortion law in Illinois. It’s a moment to reflect on what that means for the people of Illinois, especially in the light of what’s happened in other states where similar laws have been implemented. Over time, these youth-targeted abortion laws have turned into a slippery slope towards more and more dangerous regulation that restricts access to abortion services. Representatives Kathleen Willis and Robyn Gabel support the efforts of the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health and allied organizations to oppose this dangerous law.
"ICAH Art Installations brings beauty, social messages" by Jason Carson Wilson. The Windy City Times. July 23, 2014.
The flags bring the stories more to life," Phillips said. "We wanted to embody the stories in as many ways as we possibly could. When these stories are told, it puts the faces [out there].
I think the goal is to open up people for conversation," Hunt said, noting that it "allowed young people to use their creativity to respond to a public-policy issue.
"Make/Art/Space Seeks to Change Controversial Illinois Abortion Law through Art" by Zachary Woznak. The Chicago Bureau. July 21, 2014.
Zaleski, who plans on touring the pieces around Chicago over the next year, says communicating through art does more than just make it easier to talk about such a heavy topic. She realized this while traveling to the first day of the installation, held at University Church in Hyde Park. By coincidence, a group of pro-life demonstrators had gathered not far from their site...
"5 Myths About Youth-Targeted Abortion Laws" by Yamani Hernandez, ICAH Executive Director. RH Reality Check. June 27, 2014.
There are 23 states that mandate parental involvement, yet do not require sex education in schools. What’s more, 37 states don’t require sex education (if provided) to be medically accurate! In essence, these states are telling youth, “We won’t provide you with comprehensive or accurate sex education, but if you get pregnant it’s your fault and we won’t support you. We’ll just make it more difficult and expensive to get the health services you need.
"Listen to Youth: Adult Allies Must Support the Repeal of Illinois’ Forced Parental Notification Law" by Renee Bracey Sherman. RH Reality Check. May 27, 2014.
We should support families as they work to build trust, but political interference is not the answer. I know this first-hand—I became pregnant in my teens and sought an abortion from a clinic on Chicago’s north side. Even though my parents believe that people should be able to seek abortion when they need it, I was still scared to tell them I was pregnant. With everything I was told about teen pregnancy, I felt ashamed. I felt like I had failed.
“Will the Parental Notice of Abortion Act help or hurt young women?" by Julia Thiel. Chicago Reader. April 28, 2014.
There's no consensus on whether parental notification laws reduce the incidence of teen abortions. A study published in 2006 in the New England Journal of Medicine tracked abortion rates in Texas before 2000, when the state's parental notification law went into effect, and after. The research showed that after the law went into effect abortion rates dropped 11 to 20 percent more among 15- to 17-year-olds than among 18-year olds, but the rate of second-trimester abortions increased by a third among minors who were 17 and a half or slightly older at the time of conception—possibly because they waited until they turned 18 to avoid parental notification. An analysis by the New York Times of data gathered from six states (Arizona, Idaho, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia) that enacted parental notification laws between 1995 and 2004—released the same week as the NEJM study—"found no evidence that the laws had a significant impact on the number of minors who got pregnant, or, once pregnant, the number who had abortions.
“It’s All Connected: Youth Homelessness, Health Access, and the Parental Notification of Abortion Law in Illinois” by Lara Brooks. Advocates for Youth Blog. May 14, 2014.
As a long-time youth worker, sexual assault counselor, and former director of a youth center, I know that young people, navigating complex realities and complicated systems, are making informed and thoughtful decisions about their bodies—something that the very premise of PNA erases altogether. As an advocate and youth ally, I resist that erasure.
"Reproductive Rights Advocates Demand Repeal Of Illinois' Abortion Notification Law (VIDEO)" by Ellyn Fortino. Progress Illinois. April 3, 2014.
ICAH youth leader and Chicago resident Anthony Beaver, 24, had a chance to speak with State Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago) about the law. "She told me that she's very much against PNA [parental notification of abortion], it's just that with the current way the House and Senate are right now, this might not be the right time to try to get a whole repeal," Beaver said. "But this is more about raising awareness, so that whoever comes into power next, they think more progressively and are aware of what PNA is.
"Group Rallies for End to Parental Notification Law" (Transcription Available, Video has been archived.) ABC 20 News.
The Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health says there are potential dangers when a minor tells a parent she's pregnant. These include physical violence and threats of physical violence when there is a negative parent-child relationship. The group says in some cases, parents force children to keep the pregnancy, when could lead to mental health and financial issues.
"Press Release: Youth Leaders to Advocate in Springfield" by ICAH, March 6, 2014.
Advocacy Day 2014 will focus on amplifying the stories of youth while encouraging intergenerational conversations around sex, sexuality, pregnancy, abortion and the ways we can work together to create safe spaces for these conversations. After training and education, youth and adult allies will have the opportunity to engage legislators in similar conversations. Participants will end the day with a youth-led rally in the Capitol Rotunda.
"Parental Notification Laws Obstruct Abortion Access" by Claire Glass. Truth-Out. September 13, 2013.
Parent involvement laws cannot conjure love and support for pregnant teens where there's violence in the home; what they do is reduce access to abortion and increase the likelihood of more complicated later-term abortions. After a decades-long legal battle against parental involvement laws for abortion, Illinois became the 39th state to enact legislation on August 15. Now, minors in the state will have to notify a parent, grandparent, live-in stepparent, or legal guardian 48 hours before having an abortion. These laws have proven to be some of the most toxic in a nationwide assault on reproductive rights, whittling away the potency of Roe v. Wade.
"Parental Notification: What to Do?" by K. Sujata. Huffington Post. April 13, 2013.
This is a terrible situation that no one would wish upon any young woman. Now, due to a recent ruling by the Illinois Supreme Court it could become all too commonplace. The court recently ruled to make the 20 year, unenforced abortion parental notification law constitutional, unless there's an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
"Parental Notification Laws for Abortion Cause Physical and Emotional Harm" Huffington Post, February 5, 2010.
I have seen first hand the harms that forced parental involvement impose on young women. My first clinic position in this field was as a counselor in Colorado before the state adopted parental notification. Every weekend I would counsel young women from the neighboring state of Utah, who had lied to their parents, borrowed money and often unreliable transportation, and driven long hours on strange highways and interstates to get to our clinic. It was not unusual to arrive at the clinic and find the young woman and the person who had traveled with her sleeping in a car.
+ Share your story!
If you have a story or experience you'd like to share, please visit the online form, fill out your information, and submit your story.
You can also take a picture of your own shadow and post it on Instagram or Twitter with your story and the #StopPNA hashtag to participate in the storytelling campaign!
Take a listen to some of the stories we collected from young people about their experiences ending their pregnancies. We believe that these stories must be heard, especially in light of the national political climate and the 2013 enforcement of the Parental Notification for Abortion Act in Illinois.
#StopPNA Story Map
The StopPNA Story Map shows that Illinois youth and adults have something to say in opposition to the dangerous Parental Notification of Abortion (PNA) Law in Illinois. We began collecting stories as soon as the law went into effect in August 2013 and haven’t stopped since then.
Interact with the map by zooming in and out and clicking on points shows petition signatures, postcards people have signed and sent to their legislators, and stories people have written on t-shirts, and transcriptions of audio recordings of youth describing how a law like this impacts them.
Any news stories or signatures will be continuously added to this map. To share your story about parental notification, use this online form.