The U.S. Supreme Court continues to conduct business while Congress and the Reagan administration debate who should fill the Court’s vacant seat. Last month, the eight justices heard oral arguments over a law requiring minors to notify both parents and then wait 24 hours before obtaining an abortion.

The case, Hartigan v. Zbaraz, involves a 1983 Illinois law that requires parental notification, but not consent, before an unmarried minor obtains an abortion. The law provides for a court waiver of parental notification if the young woman can demonstrate that she is mature enough to make the decision herself, or that parental notification would be against her best interests. Legislators say the 24-hour waiting period was included to provide time for discussion between the parents and their daughter.

Previously, the high court struck down an Akron, Ohio, ordinance that required a 24-hour waiting period for both adults and minors seeking abortions. However, the Court has approved a Missouri law that requires parental consent before a minor can obtain an abortion.

Opponents of the Illinois law have charged that it would “interfere with a minor’s right to an abortion.” They also say the waiver of parental consent, known as a judicial bypass, is confusing and could cause further delay before an abortion is obtained.

Jurisdictional issues

Much of the oral argument before the U.S. Supreme Court centered not on the merits of the law, but rather on the complex issue of whether the Court has jurisdiction to rule in the case.

A federal appeals court earlier upheld a lower court ruling against the 24-hour waiting period. The appeals court also said the law’s judicial-bypass provision could not be considered ...

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