CHICAGO – The Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) today accepted the recommendations of members of its Medical Disciplinary Board to provide Illinois physicians a 90-day grace period before imposing sanctions included in the Parental Notice of Abortion Act of 1995. After the federal court dissolved the long-standing injunction against implementing the Act, the law took effect yesterday, August 4, 2009. The provision of the Act addressed by the members’ recommendation would require disciplinary actions against physicians who “willfully” fail to provide notice of a planned procedure.
“To promote the goals outlined in the Board’s recommendation and to provide the medical community with clarity, the Department accepts the members’ recommendation and will act consistently with that recommendation,” said Brent Adams, Acting Secretary of Financial and Professional Regulation.
In the resolution adopted last Friday in an emergency meeting of the Disciplinary Board, the members unanimously recommended that the Director of the Division of Professional Regulation defer disciplinary actions, including fines, reprimands, or other sanctions against physicians and surgeons for 90 days to allow them time to understand their responsibilities, train their staffs, and familiarize themselves with court procedures that would allow young women to seek a waiver of the parental notification requirements.
The text of the recommendation follows:
WHEREAS, on July 14, 2009, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit issued a decision that will dissolve the federal injunction barring enforcement of the Illinois Parental Notice of Abortion Act of 1995. Absent further court action, the Parental Notice of Abortion Act of 1995 will go into effect on August 4, 2009, and physicians who do not comply with the law as of that date will be subject to discipline under the Medical Practice Act. While the Parental Notice of Abortion Act of 1995 was enacted 14 years ago, it has never been enforced. In order to ensure proper compliance with the law and protection of minor women whose medical care and constitutional rights are affected by the Act, the Illinois State Medical Disciplinary Board finds it is necessary to provide Illinois physicians additional time beyond the 21 days afforded under the federal rules to put in place appropriate compliance procedures.
Illinois physicians will need to institute new procedures and protocols and to educate staff about the Act’s notification requirements and exceptions to ensure compliance with the Act. It is essential that they have sufficient time to institute these new procedures and protocols in order to ensure both compliance with the Act and protection of patients’ medical care and constitutional rights.
Physicians also need time to familiarize themselves with the Act’s judicial bypass process—which permits minors to seek a judicial waiver of the Act’s notification requirements—and any procedures adopted by local courts to implement the bypass process, in order to effectively counsel their minor patients about all of their options.
THEREFORE, the Illinois State Medical Disciplinary Board resolves and recommends to the Director of the Division of Professional Regulation, Daniel E. Bluthardt, and the Acting Secretary of the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, Brent E. Adams, that the following policy be implemented by the Department:
(a) That for 90 days after the date the federal court dissolves the injunction prohibiting enforcement of the law, or 90 days after August 4, 2009, whichever period is longer, any failure by a physician to provide notice as required by the Parental Notice of Abortion Act of 1995, 750 ILCS 70/1-99, shall not be disciplined as a “willful” failure to provide notice under 750 ILCS 70/40(a) and 225 ILCS 60/22(A)(40); and
(b) That any physician who, within the 90 day period after the date the federal court dissolves the injunction prohibiting enforcement of the law, or 90 days after August 4, 2009, whichever is later, relies on section (a) of this resolution in not providing notice under the Parental Notice of Abortion Act of 1995, 750 ILCS 70/1-99, shall be deemed to have done so in good faith and shall not be subject to discipline for unprofessional conduct.
A copy of the Department’s statement is available at IDFPR.com.