Friday, January 19, 2007

Madigan does her job

It took her a long time, but Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan did the right thing and asked a federal court today to get the ball rolling on reinstating a dormant state parental notification law.

A month ago we noted here that it had been three months since the Illinois Supreme Court paved the way for the move by writing so-called "bypass" rules that give underage girls the judicial right to bypass the notification in certain circumstances.

We said that Madigan, as Attorney General, had a duty to seek reinstatement of the dormant 1995 state law that had been halted by the federal court because it lacked the bypass rules.

Today, we applaud Madigan for doing her job even though she is not personally in favor of the law she is defending. She made the tough decision an Attorney General sometimes has to make. She will pay a price with her political base—left wing groups such as Planned Parenthood who have given Lisa large campaign contributions and who adamantly oppose parental notification.

The only caveat to this is a strange request Madigan made as part of the federal court filing. She asked the court for an unspecified delay in lifting the injunction until a Madigan appointed "special master" could make sure Illinois courts were ready to implement the new rules. It appears to be an unusual request because the Supreme Court rules are quite straightforward. We will be watching to make sure this is not a stalling tactic.

Also deserving credit for bringing the parental notification issue to the forefront is a former client, DuPage County State's Attorney Joe Birkett. It was Birkett who spoke out loudly on the issue and organized a statewide petition drive that was delivered to the state Supreme Court shortly before the court reversed course and wrote the rules.

The real winners will be parents in Illinois who, once this law is activated, will be notified if their 14-year-old daughter is seeking an abortion.

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