An old dispute on a controversial issue is back in the news.
The Illinois Supreme Court has announced that it will finally rule on the constitutionality of a 16-year-old law requiring that parents be notified if their minor child seeks an abortion.
It's somewhat ironic that the high court has decided that it will resolve this issue so many years after the law was passed. That's because the court is largely responsible for the unconscionable delay that has occurred between passage of the law and its still-incomplete implementation.
Public opinion polls over the years have indicated majority support for a woman's right to terminate the life of her unborn child. But those polls also have shown majority support for parental notification.
It was that sentiment legislators were responding to when, under former Gov. Jim Edgar, they passed this law.
It's important to remember that notification does not allow parents to make the ultimate decision for the child. Under the law, abortion is an individual right.
Further, the law provides for a judicial bypass to avoid notification if the underage girl's parental relationship is not good.
This law is not draconian. Indeed, many states have similar laws and they all have withstood court scrutiny.
Unfortunately, those who oppose the law refused to respect its passage.
For starters, a majority of the Illinois Supreme Court blocked the law's implementation for 11 years by refusing to draft rules outlining how courts would handle the judicial bypass. That stalling tactic ended in 2006 after a change in court personnel led to the drafting of proper rules.
Since then, opponents of the law, including the American Civil Liberties Union, have filed lawsuits in state and federal courts challenging the law's constitutionality.
The federal courts dismissed that argument in July 2009. State courts have been wrestling with the issue since then. Opponents of the law claimed victory in June when a state appeals court ordered the case back to the trial court for a full hearing on the law's constitutionality.
But the Illinois Supreme Court decided this week to review the issue. That's a good thing because there will be a resolution to this long-standing controversy.
Constitutional law is a tricky business, and there's no way to predict the court's ruling. But given the emotional and physical trauma associated with abortion, parental notification requirement seems well within the bounds of common sense and basic decency.