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Parental consent on Aurora council agenda
By Amy Boerema | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 9/13/2007 12:06 AM

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Minors may have to obtain parental consent before receiving medical treatment if one Aurora official has his way.

Fourth Ward Alderman Rick Lawrence says he's working on a local ordinance to require those 18 and younger to notify their parents before receiving medical care.

The details are being worked out, he said Wednesday, but exceptions will be made in emergencies.

For example, a child hit by a car may need immediate care, but a health-care professional must make a "good-faith" effort to contact family within 24 hours of treatment.

Lawrence hopes to introduce the proposed law to the city's government operations committee in two weeks.

The move was prompted by the Planned Parenthood controversy, though Lawrence said Wednesday he's not specifically targeting the far east-side facility or the abortion services it plans to offer when it opens.

But as a father of two daughters, he said he's "astounded" they could decide to have a potentially life-threatening surgery without their parents' knowledge.

A teen doesn't have the ability or resources to check a doctor's qualifications or record beforehand, he said. The lack of such a consent law encourages kids to not include parents in their health choices, he said.

"I don't believe a child at 13, 14 or 16 years old can understand the ramifications of any type of invasive procedure," he said.

The Illinois Parental Notice of Abortion Act was passed in 1995 but was blocked by a federal court from taking effect. Because Aurora is a home-rule city, officials can create their own laws.

Many Planned Parenthood opponents urged officials this week to adopt such a law. However, others say it sets a dangerous precedent and endangers the lives of young women at risk.

Ed Yohnka, spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, called such a proposal unconstitutional and "bad policy."

"We simply don't believe that the city of Aurora can do that," he said. "We're going to be watching this activity very closely over the next few months."

The girls who will be most affected are those who may not be able to confide in their parents, for whatever reason, prompting some to take desperate measures or risk their own lives, some say.

Studies also show the vast majority of pregnant young women tell a parent, guardian or sibling, Yohnka said.

"The notion of forcing or compelling family dialogue is something that isn't needed or necessary," he said.