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Parental consent proposal introduced in Aurora
Alderman behind measure says he's not targeting abortion
By Amy Boerema | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 10/12/2007 12:13 AM

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Aurora city leaders Thursday got their first look at a proposal to require minors to obtain parental consent before receiving medical treatment.

Alderman Rick Lawrence, who created the proposed law, is asking it be put on the agenda of the city's next government operations committee meeting at 4:30 p.m. Oct. 23 at the aldermen's office, 60 E. Downer Place.

The proposal comes a week after a controversial Planned Parenthood clinic opened on the city's far east side, though Lawrence insists he's not specifically targeting abortion services.

According to his proposal, doctors would have to notify a parent or guardian at least 48 hours in advance of any medical procedure involving anyone younger than 18.

A medical procedure is defined as "any course of action taken by medical or paramedical personnel intended to achieve a result in the care of a patient."

It would include prescribing medications.

Some exceptions would be allowed, including in cases of emergency.

In situations of parental abuse or neglect, such notice could be given to an older sibling or relative, according to the alderman's plan.

Lawrence sent the proposal to city officials Thursday. He will have to find an alderman to co-sponsor the bill, city spokeswoman Carie Anne Ergo said.

It's unusual, but acceptable, that an aldermen drafts his own ordinance, she said. Officials usually discuss an issue first and then have staff members draft the law, she said.

Staff members will review the proposal and be prepared to answer questions on Oct. 23, she said.

Lawrence said it's "unacceptable" that doctors can treat minors without their parents knowing. Most kids lack an ability to make informed choices that consider the long-term consequences on their own, he said.

Various laws designed to protect children already exist, he said, such as requiring them to obtain consent to get their ears pierced.

Likewise, they shouldn't be allowed to have a potentially life-threatening surgery without parental notification, he said.

Aurora, as a home-rule city with the ability to create its own laws, should take the lead on the issue, he said.

He stressed his plan isn't specifically targeting abortions at the Planned Parenthood clinic.

"I'm sure the attacks will start quickly, and that's fine," he said. "But I'm not in that fight."

Abortion opponents generally agree such a law would protect children and help preserve the family unit.

Other groups, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, have spoken against it, with an Illinois spokesman calling it unconstitutional and "bad policy."

Bonnie Grabenhofer, president of the Illinois National Organization for Women, told aldermen the law would endanger the lives and health of teens.

Speaking specifically about abortion, she said most minors already discuss their decision with a parent, so a law is unnecessary.

Those who don't tell their parents often have good reason, such as fear of violence or other abuse, she said.

"These laws can't force good communication where it doesn't already exist," she said.