Adults in Idaho can now be criminally charged for transporting minors out of state in order to undergo an abortion.
Governor Brad Little signed House Bill 242 into law, making Idaho the first state to pass regulation regarding interstate travel for the purpose of abortion.
The crime, abortion trafficking, is a felony and is punishable by two to five years in prison. The policy was passed by the Senate 21-7 and by the House 58-11 on March 30.
“With the U.S. Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade last summer, the right and duty to establish legal policy on abortion were finally returned to our state democratic process,” wrote Little in his April 5 transmittal letter.
“Section 1 of House Bill 242 does not criminalize, preclude, or otherwise impair interstate travel, nor does it limit an adult woman from obtaining an abortion in another state,” the governor continued. “Rather, the ‘abortion trafficking’ provision in the bill seeks only to prevent unemancipated minor girls from being taken across state lines for an abortion without the knowledge and consent of her parents.”
HB 242 goes into effect in early May.
Under current Idaho law, abortions are only permitted in the case of a medical emergency.
In the weeks leading up to the bill’s passage, Republican legislators and anti-abortion activists both argued that the law was in the best interest of Idaho’s minors.
Representative Barbara Ehardt, who sponsored HB 242, said the measure is a parental rights bill and protects minors who fall unexpectedly pregnant.
“It is something that, unfortunately, is happening, and I don’t think any of us want to see our minors not only trafficked but in this situation,” Ehardt told the House State Affairs Committee in February, per The Idaho Statesman. “We will make sure that we have top-notch legal authority to deal with this.”
Megan Wold, a lobbyist for Right to Life Idaho, told the Committee that girls who are impregnated by adult men are at risk of being taken out of state to undergo abortion in order to conceal abuse.
“This is a real problem and adults who engage in this type of behavior deserve to be criminally punished,” Wold said, per KTVB 7.
“HB 242 protects parents’ rights to be involved in their minor daughter’s decision,” Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life, told Life News. “No minor daughter should be without her parents’ guidance and HB 242 would protect the right of parents.”
Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates-West said Little disregarded “the will of constituents pleading with him not to sign this legislation” when he elected to sign HB 242 into law. The organization argued that “while most young people do include their parents in the decision to get an abortion, some are in dangerous, abusive situations in which disclosing pregnancy status could put them in further harm.”
“Banning abortion wasn’t enough for these anti-abortion zealots. They will stop at nothing to control what we do and where we go — even if it means holding people hostage when trying to access essential health services,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood, in a statement. “Young people seeking abortion deserve our compassion and support, not the extreme government overreach this law sanctions.”
Lawmakers in other states have proposed penalties for assisting with interstate travel for the purpose of obtaining an abortion. The Missouri House ultimately blocked a provision in a 2021 abortion bill that would have made it illegal to help a state resident get an abortion out of state.
Oklahoma and Texas have previously permitted lawsuits against people who help facilitate an abortion within the states’ borders but did not criminalize assisting with an out-of-state abortion, reports NBC News.
Other states, such as Washington and Oregon, have considered legislative steps to prevent courts and law enforcement officers from enforcing arrest warrants or subpoenas served in connection to an abortion performed on a non-resident.