After being debated for eight years, the Youth Health and Safety Act which would repeal the Parental Notice of Abortion Act goes to Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who plans to sign it into law in June 2022.
A bill meant to repeal the Parental Notice of Abortion Act which forbids minors from having abortions without parental consent, the Youth Health and Safety Act is a bill that is meant to give support to minors seeking assistance during pregnancy including abortion care.
A strong advocate of the bill, Khadine Bennett, is the advocacy and intergovernmental affairs director of the Illinois chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. Bennett said she was excited to hear that the bill will be put into law next year.
“It feels really exciting, especially since it’s the culmination of years of work by lots of folks,” Bennett said. ”It means that once the governor signs it effective June of next year, youth who are seeking abortions in Illinois don’t have to go through an unnecessary or brutal [process] that has had the affect of putting lots of youths in danger.”
Bennett said her work before joining the ACLU also related to advocacy for women, with reproductive rights taking a focus.
“One of my first real jobs after college was working at this organization called the Women’s Institutional Leadership Development for Human Rights,” Bennett said. “I worked as a young women’s program director where I worked with young people and our youth advisory board. A lot of our work was around trusting youth to understand what policies and practices are important for them and training young people to identify areas for policy improvement.”
Emily Werth, a staff attorney at the ACLU is involved with working on the Illinois Judicial Bypass Coordination Project, which aims to help and educate youth on what their options are if they are impacted by the PNA.
“Since the Parental Notice of Abortion Act went into effect in 2013, the ACLU has operated this project to provide legal assistance to young people who may need to go through a court process called judicial bypass in order to access an abortion without being forced to involve their parents or one of the other adult family members,” Werth said.
Werth said the ACLU has aided more than 575 youths over the past eight years in the judicial bypass process and have contacted and answered questions from more than 1,000 young people.
“I’ve worked with literally hundreds of young people over the last seven years, and their experiences vary to some degree — what is consistent is the fact that they know what is best for them [and] they involve other trusted people in their
process,” Werth said.
Senior public health administration major Bridget Patrick of Edwardsville, Illinois, is the vice president of the Students for Reproductive Rights student organization. She said she was overjoyed when the bill passed the General Assembly.
“We’re the first state in the country to repeal the PNA … We are leading the change that is needed [and] we’re setting the tone for other states to follow,” Patrick said.
Being a woman herself as well as a mother and grandmother, Patrick said she wants to make sure she tries to fight for the progression of women’s rights as much as she can.
“As a woman, I want to be able to have my own decisions and have my own autonomy over my body … I want them and future generations to be able to have the right to decide what it is that they want to do with their body in whatever situation they’re in,” Patrick said.
For more information about how to get involved with the SIUE Students for Reproductive Rights, visit their Facebook.