By guest blogger Elizabeth Oklevitch, Regent University Law School, Candidate for J.D., 2014.
Every year, many students arrive at Regent Law eager to earn their degrees, get out in the real world, and champion the cause of the unborn. For Regent alumnus, Noel Sterett ‘06, defending life through the practice of law is not a dream, but reality. This month he celebrated a significant victory in a strenuous battle to protect unborn children, vulnerable teenage mothers, and concerned parents in Illinois.
The clash over Illinois’ Parental Notice of Abortion Act of 1995 spanned nearly two decades. Essentially, the Act requires parents be given 48-hours notice before a minor daughter undergoes an abortion, unless a parent accompanies the daughter or provides a written waiver, there is a medical emergency, the minor claims to be the victim of abuse or neglect, or a judicial by-pass is granted. For those committed to making abortion available to anyone, anytime, anywhere, this precaution that aims to ensure the well-being of vulnerable teenagers is a no can do. Six days after the Act’s enactment in 1995, its constitutionality was challenged in court. On July 11, 2013, eighteen years later, the Supreme Court of Illinois unanimously upheld the law as constitutional. (More information on the history of this Act can be found within the decision).
Despite this law's passage in 1995, the court has not allowed the law to be enforced because of repeated lawsuits by the American Civil Liberties Union. The Illinois Supreme Court has now invalidated the ACLU's claims that the law violated the state constitution. Mauck & Baker filed an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief in the Hope Clinic for Women, Ltd., v. Flores case decided today.
The Court's opinion states: We conclude, therefore, that our Parental Notice Act furthers a "constitutionally permissible end" by encouraging an unmarried, pregnant minor to seek the help and advice of a parent or other adult family member in making the very important decision whether or not to bear a child.
The decision wording echoes that of the amicus brief filed by Mauck & Baker attorneys on behalf of the Christian Medical and Dental Associations, the American Association of Pro Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the Catholic Medical Association.
The brief, authored by Richard C. Baker, Amy Parrish, and Noel Sterett, argued that Illinois' Parental Notice Act served the legitimate purpose of helping minors make mature and informed decisions about whether to abort, allow parents to assist their daughter in selecting a safe and competent abortion provider, ensure that parents have the opportunity to provide additional medical history and information to assist abortion providers, and ensures that parents have adequate knowledge to recognize and respond to post-abortion complications.
Thus, in co-authoring an influential brief, Noel Sterrett’s work has impacted the landscape of constitutional law in Illinois, literally saved lives, and brought public recognition to the family as an institution providing needed protection and guidance to children.
Students attending Regent frequently hear, “Law is more than a profession – it’s a calling.” It is encouraging to see a Regent alumnus walking out that calling, not merely holding it as a dream, but successfully fighting for the defense of the vulnerable and the restoration of the family.
To find out more about Noel’s firm, Mauck & Baker, and their commitment to integrity, justice, and religious liberty, visit www.mauckbaker.com.