The Supreme Court today agreed to study whether states may require some girls under 18 who seek abortions to wait 24 hours after telling their parents about their decision.
The justices said they will review decisions striking down a 1983 Illinois law that would impose the 24-hour waiting period.
Lower courts also found fault with how the Illinois law proposed to protect the confidentiality and anonymity of such proceedings.
The Illinois law, passed by the General Assembly over Gov. James R. Thompson’s veto, requires that unmarried girls under 18 and still dependent on their parents notify the parents 24 hours before aborting their pregnancy.
The notification requirement may be waived altogether if the girl proves to a state judge that she is mature enough and well-informed enough to make the decision on her own and that notifying her parents would not be in her best interest.
For ‘Immature’ Girls
In 1981, the Supreme Court allowed states to impose parental-notification requirements for “immature” girls under 18 who still are dependent on their parents. But in 1983 the court struck down an abortion law’s 24-hour waiting period that applied to minors and adults alike.
Doctors who perform abortions challenged the 1983 Illinois law, seeking to have it declared unconstitutional.
A federal trial judge struck down the entire law, but the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals did not go quite that far.
The appeals court ruled that the 24-hour waiting period was an impermissible infringement on the right to have an abortion. But it left to the state Supreme Court the issue of whether the 1983 law sufficiently provided for confidentiality and anonymity.
In seeking help from the nation’s highest court on the abortion issue, Illinois officials said the waiting period was “designed to provide an opportunity for meaningful consultation.”
Four Other States
They said Arizona, Idaho, Minnesota and West Virginia laws require similar waiting periods between parental notification and abortions.
The state’s appeal said the 7th Circuit ruling “prohibits states from selecting a moderate course for involving parents in their daughters’ abortion decision.”
In another action today, the court refused to hear the appeal of convicted multiple murderer Theodore Bundy, a resident of Florida’s Death Row.
The justices rejected arguments that Bundy’s conviction for the Feb. 9, 1978, murder of 12-year-old Kimberly Leach in Lake City was tainted by the testimony of an eyewitness later ruled too undependable.
Bundy also has been sentenced to death for two sorority house murders at Florida State University in Tallahassee on Jan. 15, 1978. That case has already been considered by the court, but that does not preclude its being considered again in the future.
Although he has already faced several execution dates, each has been postponed.