Parental Notice ordinance needs your support

Eric and LizaHere I am (see photo at right) this past May with my daughter Liza in our new garden. We’re planting red peppers. Last night, Liza helped me make a big pot of chili using some of those very same peppers. At eleven-going-on-twelve, Liza is the oldest of my six daughters. As the father of so many girls—plus their two older brothers—I’m keenly interested in the Parental Notice ordinance just proposed by Alderman Rick Lawrence and endorsed by Aldermen Chris Beykirch and Richard Irvin. The proposed ordinance would require any medical provider to inform the parents of a minor before administering any medical procedure, including abortion. A recent USA Today poll finds that 73% of Americans favor such laws. The purpose of this measure is to safeguard the health of our kids. As parents, we’re responsible for our children, but how can we exercise that responsibility if we are kept completely in the dark when they receive medical care? The Parental Notification of Medical Procedures Ordinance protects our kids in two ways. First, it ensures that parents will be able to offer guidance to their children. As any parent of a teen knows, adolescents don’t always make wise decisions. They are still learning how to assess risks, weigh consequences and keep things in the proper perspective. Teens facing such an extreme crisis as an unplanned pregnancy need parental guidance. Secondly, this ordinance would ensure that parents have the information they need to take care of their children. Teenage girls have died because their parents didn’t know they were suffering from the physical or psychological effects of abortion. (See the “Teen Abortion Risks Fact Sheet” linked below.) This wisdom is recognized with regard to every other medical procedure. A girl can’t get an ear pierced or take an aspirin at school without parental consent, but she can be given contraceptive steroids or get an abortion without her parents’ knowledge. Alderman Lawrence’s ordinance would bring all medical procedures under the same standard: parents must be informed. I encourage everyone to support this measure. Here’s what you can do:

  1. Learn more about the proposed ordinance:
  2. Educate yourself on the parental notice issue:
  3. Gather petition signatures supporting the measure:
  4. Support the measure at the City Council Tuesday, October 23:
    • Call the City Clerk at 630-844-3615 to sign up to speak.
    • Use the resources above to prepare your three-minute speech.
    • Be there at the meeting, even if you’re not speaking.

Now, opponents of this measure will say that it’s an attempt to “legislate family relationships.” They’ll tell us that an ordinance can’t force parents and teens to communicate. Nonsense. Even teens who have good relationships with their parents will keep things secret at times that they shouldn’t. That’s to be expected from them as they negotiate their emerging independence. This ordinance would help to ensure that at least on the crucial subject of medical care, parents stay informed. Opponents will also raise the specter of abusive parents who will harm a daughter who is forced to tell them she’s pregnant. But the proposed ordinance includes a bypass provision to address that concern. Other opponents—including, as it seems, some members of the City Council—will say this is not a proper subject for a city: that the state should handle such matters. But, first of all, the State of Illinois has dropped the ball on this one. We have a state parental notice law that was passed in 1995 but has never yet been enforced, thanks to unwillingness on the part of judges and elected officials and opposition from the abortion lobby. Secondly, if Aurora is to be the abortion capital of the midwest, we’re going to have to take the lead on preserving the right of parents and protecting the health of our children.

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