Two doctors and a Planned Parenthood affiliate are suing Idaho Attorney General Raúl Labrador after the Gem State’s top cop stated that it’s illegal for doctors to refer residents to out-of-state abortion providers. This would represent a clear violation of numerous constitutional rights, they argue.
Labrador’s assertion is part of a larger attempt by Idaho Republicans to enforce the state’s strict abortion ban even outside of state lines. Abortion is totally banned in Idaho except in cases involving rape, incest, or a threat to the mother’s life, and minors in these circumstances can only obtain an abortion with a parent or guardian’s permission.
On Wednesday, Republican Gov. Brad Little signed a law creating the new crime of “abortion trafficking.” The law makes it illegal to help someone under age 18 obtain an abortion “by recruiting, harboring, or transporting the pregnant minor within this state” without a parent or guardian’s permission, with violations punishable by two to five years in prison.
The new law “is somewhat strangely worded,” Reason‘s Emma Camp noted recently, “as it technically does not criminalize the act of crossing state lines to help a minor obtain an abortion without parental consent, which is what would practically be required in a state where abortion is almost entirely illegal.” But the abortion trafficking law tacitly takes aim at helping minors travel out of state for abortions, stating that the fact that “the abortion provider or the abortion-inducing drug provider is located in another state” cannot be used as an affirmative defense. So it seems an Idaho resident who helped an Idaho teenager arrange an out-of-state abortion, arrange to purchase abortion pills in another state, or travel at all within the state on the way out of state could still be charged with abortion trafficking even if the abortion itself doesn’t take place in Idaho. The law also “allows the filing of lawsuits against doctors who perform such abortions, even if the doctors live outside the state,” notes The New York Times.
That the abortion trafficking statute is meant to prevent out-of-state travel is made clear in a Wednesday letter from Little. The measure seeks “to prevent unemancipated minor girls from being taken across state lines for an abortion without the knowledge or consent of her parent or guardian,” he wrote.
And the state isn’t stopping at trying to prevent girls from going out of state for abortions.
In a March 27 letter to Idaho Rep. Brent Crane (R–Nampa), Labrador wrote that Idaho’s criminal prohibitions on abortion “preclude 1) the provision of abortion bills, 2) the promotion of abortion bills, and 3) referring women across state lines to obtain abortion services or prescribing abortion pills that will be picked up across state lines.”
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