The new law makes it illegal for an adult to help minors cross state lines for abortion services without the knowledge or consent of the minor's parents.
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A new Idaho state law, passed on April 5, makes it illegal for an adult to help a minor procure an out-of-state abortion without the consent of the minor’s parents. The law, which describes such assistance as “abortion trafficking,” is the first of its kind in the US.
While the law deals with abortion, it does not specifically ban the act of traveling across state lines to seek abortion related services. Rather, it focuses on adults who help minors cross state lines without their parents’ knowledge or consent. In this, the law seems more intended to protect parental rights than to prosecute abortion providers. Adults convicted of the crime could face up to five years in prison, while the law also leaves the door open for them to be sued by the parents or grandparents of the minor.
According to AP News, the law also makes it illegal for an adult to obtain abortion pills for minors without parent’s knowledge or consent. Furthermore, it grants the state attorney general the option to prosecute offenses, even if the county prosecutor declines the case. While a constitutional right to interstate travel prevents Idaho from prosecuting an out-of-state abortion itself, it has made the in-state segment of the trip a criminal offense.
Idaho, which is one of 13 US states to have placed strict bans on abortion at all stages after the landmark Supreme Court ruling which overturned Dobbs last year, is currently hearing a lawsuit by several healthcare providers over a different abortion restriction issued in March. This legislation made it illegal for doctors to prescribe abortion medication to be picked up outside Idaho, as well as prohibiting doctors to issue out-of-state referrals.
The AP News report notes that the results of this lawsuit could affect the “abortion trafficking” law, as it also deals with out-of-state abortion services. Rather than arguing the right to interstate healthcare, the lawsuit phrases the restrictions as “a violation of the First Amendment’s free speech provisions as well as the U.S. Constitution’s commerce clause.” The US commerce clause prevents states from imposing major roadblocks to interstate commerce, which in this case would consider abortion providers to be businesses which are impeded by Idaho’s interstate abortion laws.