Idaho bans 'abortion trafficking'; ACLU, Planned Parenthood sue

April 6 (UPI) -- The Republican governor of Idaho, Brad Little, signed into law legislation that makes it a crime for an adult to aid a minor in receiving an abortion, while civil rights groups filed a lawsuit over a new interpretation of the state's near-total abortion ban.

Little on Wednesday signed House Bill 242 that criminalizes "abortion trafficking," which the legislation defines as an adult who either procures an abortion or obtains out-of-state abortion-inducing drugs for a minor. Anyone convicted of committing such a crime can face between two and five years' imprisonment.


"With the U.S. Supreme Court's reversal of Roe vs. Wade last summer, the right and duty to establish legal policy on abortion was finally returned to our state democratic process," Little wrote in a letter announcing he had signed HB 242.

"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. 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 parent or guardian."


Idaho is now the first in the country to restrict traveling out of state for an abortion, according to Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates, which vowed Wednesday "to do everything in our power to stop it."

"This bill criminalizes an adult assisting a young person accessing abortion care with the intent of concealing the abortion from their parent. While most young people include their parents in the decision to get an abortion, some are in dangerous, abusive situations," the organization tweeted Wednesday.

"Idaho lawmakers have slipped under the radar with some of the strictest anti-abortion laws in the country. Now, they're using an incredibly serious term like trafficking to talk about young people traveling with trusted adults to access a legal procedure in another state."

Since the Supreme Court last summer repealed federal protections for abortion by overturning the landmark 1973 Roe vs. Wade ruling, Republican-led states have sought to outright or at least restrict access to abortion across the country.

Idaho is one of 12 states enforcing near-total abortion bans with abortion care in North Dakota and Wisconsin unavailable due to legal challenges, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

The state's attorney general, Raul Labrador, last week wrote in a legal opinion that Idaho's near-total abortion ban prohibits a medical provider from referring a woman across state lines to access abortion services, including the prescribing of abortion-inducing medication. Those found in violation will see their healthcare professional's license suspended.


On Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood announced the filing of a lawsuit against the state's interpretation, calling it government overreach and a violation of the First Amendment.

"The opinion issued by Attorney General Labrador is blatantly unconstitutional and a dangerous threat to pregnant people in Idaho and the healthcare providers who they rely on," Andrew Beck, senior staff attorney for the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, said in a statement. "The opinion essentially puts a state-mandated muzzle on healthcare providers, stopping them from giving patients important and potentially life-saving information about where to get the medical care they need.

"This brazen attack on the reproductive freedom of Idahoans will not stand."

Latest Headlines