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Idaho passes law to restrict interstate travel for abortion care for minors

Idaho passes law to restrict interstate travel for abortion care for minors
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Idaho just became the first state to implement an interstate travel restriction on abortion care since the Supreme Court repealed federal protections last year.

Governor Brad Little (R) signed legislation on Wednesday evening which prohibits minors from traveling out of state for abortions without parental consent. The law creates a new crime called “abortion trafficking”, which the legislation defines as an “adult who, with intent to conceal an abortion from the parents or guardian of a pregnant unemancipated minor, either procures an abortion…or obtains an abortion drug” for the minor.

“The recruitment, harboring or transportation of the pregnant minor in this state commits the crime of abortion trafficking,” according to the legislation. The crime of abortion trafficking is a criminal misdemeanor punishable by two to five years in prison.

The law criminalizes anyone transporting a pregnant minor without parental consent to Idaho to obtain an abortion or abortion pills, which means it could apply to a grandmother driving a pregnant minor to the office. mail to pick up a parcel containing abortion drugs or target an older brother to drive a pregnant minor to a friend’s house to self-manage a home abortion.

Little clarified in a letter to the Speaker of the Idaho House that the law will not limit interstate travel for abortion for any adult.

“The ‘abortion trafficking’ provision in the bill is intended solely to prevent underage unemancipated girls from being taken across state lines for an abortion without the knowledge and consent of their parents. or tutors,” the governor wrote.

The law goes into effect 30 days after Little’s signing.

Idaho Governor Brad Little has signed a law that prohibits minors from traveling out of state for abortions without parental consent.

“Many minors don’t have supportive parents or guardians or are sure in their lives who they can ask to help them get an abortion,” North West Abortion Access Funda regional abortion fund that serves Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Alaska, said in a statement.

“It is remarkable that lawmakers believe young people in Idaho do not have the ability to make reproductive health choices for themselves or deserve bodily autonomy, but believe those same young people should have the ability to raising and caring for children on their own, without any major social or economic support,” he continued.

Although the legislation does not specifically address crossing state lines, most pregnant women in Idaho do not travel to the state for abortions. Most travel to obtain legal abortions in neighboring states like Washington or Oregon. This law criminalizes the act of anyone driving a minor without parental consent across the Idaho border with the intent of crossing state lines to obtain an out-of-state abortion.

“They technically don’t criminalize people driving in Washington State with a minor. The crime is the time someone drives the minor into Idaho,” David Cohenprofessor of law at Drexel University in Philadelphia whose work focuses on constitutional law and abortion policy, says HuffPost last month.

State Representative Barbara Ehardt (right), one of the sponsors of the abortion trafficking law, told HuffPost last month that the intention of the legislation was to limit the ability of minors to travel out of state without parental consent, despite the text of the bill. only discussing in-state travel.

“It’s already illegal to have an abortion here in the state of Idaho,” Ehardt said. “So that would be like taking that child across the border, and if that happens without the parent’s permission, that’s where we can hold accountable those who violate a parent’s right.”

Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, condemned the law in a statement late Wednesday.

“Young people seeking abortions deserve our compassion and support, not extreme governments that go beyond the penalties of this law,” she said. “Make no mistake: HB242 will have a chilling effect on those who would help minors access critical abortion care, placing young people in dangerous and isolating situations.”

Idaho already has some of the strongest anti-abortion laws in the country. little signed a almost total ban on abortion just a month after the fall of Roe v. Wade last year. The state had already set up a six-week abortion ban with private enforcement mechanismwhich is still in place despite the almost total ban also in force.

The only exceptions include affirmative defenses in cases of rape or incest, and only if the victims have a police report. The law also includes an exception to save the life of the pregnant person, a law that the Biden administration originally sued Idaho because it didn’t factor into the state’s six-week ban.

And the severe restrictions imposed by the state have immediate effects: many obstetrician-gynecologists are leave the state out of fear civil and criminal penalties for doing their job, and two hospitals were forced to close their labor and delivery rooms for lack of doctors.

Many pro-choice groups feared that after the fall of Roe v. Wade, anti-abortion lawmakers aren’t trying to limit travel between states. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh clarified in his concurring opinion for Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that the right to travel between states is still protected by the Constitution. But because Idaho’s abortion trafficking bill is crafted in a way that only affects travel within Idaho and affects minors, it appears lawmakers have found a loophole.

Idaho is also not the first state to restrict travel for abortion care. Missouri, a state known for pushing the boundaries of anti-abortion legislation, had a similar law on the books since 2005. Although Missouri law provides a civil penalty, Idaho law goes further with felony punishment and creates an entirely new felony under the state’s criminal code.

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