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Seventh Circuit says notifying parents of a minor’s pending abortion is unconstitutional, sets the stage for likely Supreme Court review



A three-judge panel has struck down an Indiana law that required girls under the age of 18 to notify her parents before having an abortion, with the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that the law imposes an “undue burden” on a girl’s right to an abortion.


Quick Facts



Box II, as the law is known, contains an amendment that requires parents to be notified if a minor receives court approval to have an abortion without parental consent. The Seventh Circuit struck down Indiana’s law once before, but was instructed by the Supreme Court to reexamine the case.


Indiana put the notification policy into place in 2017 as an amendment to the state’s judicial-bypass process, which allows minors to seek an abortion without parental consent if a judge determines that the child is either mature enough to make her own decision or that an abortion is in her “best interests.” If the judge thus rules, the new policy mandated that the minor’s parents need to at least be notified of their child’s decision to have an abortion.


Upon reexamining the case originally brought by Planned Parenthood, two of the three judges found that the notification provision of the Indiana law is an “undue burden” on the right to an abortion and ruled it unconstitutional.


Judge Michael Kanne dissented in the previous case and this one, writing,


“The other reasons for my prior dissent remain unchanged. The Supreme Court has confirmed that parental-notification requirements are constitutional time and again. And Planned Parenthood has failed to show that requiring mature minors to notify their parents that they intend to have an abortion (where a judge has found that avoiding notification is not in their best interests) constitutes an undue burden under Casey.”


The 7th Circuit had refused to hear the case en banc, so Indiana will likely seek a full review by the full roster of 11 judges, but legal experts believe that this case will go back to the Supreme Court for a reconsideration of its “abortion jurisprudence.”





The decision in the Box II amendment is yet another reason why the Supreme Court needs to reevaluate landmark cases such as Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. What state abortion restriction is ever allowed without years of legal battles before inevitably being struck down by a federal court? Federal judges have interpreted previous cases enshrining the right to an abortion as absolute.


This Indiana law does not even technically require parental consent as it allows for a court to grant that a minor may seek an abortion; all it requires is that a parent be notified. If simply notifying a parent represents an undue burden on abortion access then virtually anything is.


States must be free to regulate abortion for the protection of the unborn and for the protection of women. Planned Parenthood claims to be in support of women, but in reality, they support abortion. There is nothing in this law that prevents a minor from having an abortion, even though it could certainly be argued that there should be.


In order to prevent an endless parade of court battles resulting in judicial tyranny by a small class of federal judges, the Supreme Court must make allowances for state sovereignty in this controversial issue.