The Idaho state legislature is moving forward with a bill that criminalizes transporting minors to get an abortion without their parents’ consent, potentially soon becoming the first state to restrict interstate travel for abortion as Republican lawmakers seek to strengthen existing state bans on abortion and enact further limits.
Idaho’s House Bill 242 creates the new crime of “abortion trafficking,” defined as an adult helping a minor obtain an abortion or abortion pills without their parent or guardian’s consent, by “recruiting, harboring, or transporting the pregnant minor within this state.”
Abortion is banned in Idaho except in medical emergencies, so the bill would largely apply to people who are traveling to leave the state and obtain an abortion somewhere else, and the legislation makes clear that it still applies if “the abortion provider or the abortion-inducing drug provider is located in another state.”
The bill makes “abortion trafficking” a felony punishable by two to five years in prison, and gets around a trend seen in some anti-abortion rights states of local prosecutors refusing to enforce abortion bans, saying the Idaho Attorney General will enforce the law if local prosecutors won’t.
House Bill 242 passed the Idaho state House earlier in March largely along party lines (57-12), and moved forward on Monday in the state Senate, advancing out of committee and to the full chamber.
State Rep. Barbara Ehardt (R), one of the bill’s sponsors, told HuffPost the bill was intended to limit interstate travel for minors, saying since it’s “already illegal” to get an abortion within Idaho, “it would be taking that child across the border, and if that happens without the permission of the parent, that’s where we’ll be able to hold accountable those that would subvert a parent’s right.”
What To Watch For
House Bill 242 is expected to pass the state Senate, where Republicans outnumber Democrats 28 to 7, and be signed into law by Gov. Brad Little (R), who has spoken out against abortion in the past and signed other anti-abortion bills into law. It’s possible other states could follow suit with legislation that takes aim at interstate travel, with lawmakers in other states such as Missouri already introducing bills aimed at traveling out-of-state—which so far have yet to pass—and anti-abortion rights groups pushing such legislation.
“This is the first of what will probably be many states that pass provisions like this because it does seem to be something that the [anti-abortion rights] movement wants, at least for minors. Whether they expand it to adults, too, we will see,” Drexel University law professor David Cohen told HuffPost. “But at least for minors, this seems to be part of the blueprint. And Idaho is now the first state that’s putting it into reality.”
“The majority of young people facing an unexpected pregnancy do involve their parents in their decision-making … But for young children living in abusive households, disclosing sexual activity or pregnancy can trigger physical or emotional abuse, including direct physical or sexual violence, or being thrown out of the home,” Mistie DelliCarpini-Tolman, the Idaho State Director for Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates, said about the bill, KVMT reports, arguing the legislation would violate minors’ rights.
Idaho is one of approximately a dozen states where abortion is now banned following the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade in June, along with others that have enacted bans that have since been blocked in court. Despite already banning abortion, many state lawmakers have introduced legislation that seeks to exacerbate restrictions on abortion even further, including through further limitations on abortion pills and punishments for businesses who support abortion, among other measures. Restrictions on interstate travel for abortion have been one of the biggest fears among abortion rights advocates, even as Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote in a concurrence to the court’s ruling striking down Roe that the decision doesn’t mean “a State [may] bar a resident of that State from traveling to another State to obtain an abortion.” While no proposals banning interstate travel had seriously moved forward until the Idaho bill, several Democrat-led states have already preemptively responded with legislation that imposes legal protections on people who get abortions out of state or perform abortions for out-of-state residents. The House passed a bill last year that would protect out of state travel for abortion nationwide, but it failed in the Senate.
Idaho Is About To Become The First State To Restrict Interstate Travel For Abortion (HuffPost)
Antiabortion lawmakers want to block patients from crossing state lines (Washington Post)
100 Days Since Roe V. Wade Was Overturned: The 11 Biggest Consequences (Forbes)