Idaho Governor Brad Little signed a groundbreaking bill into law on Wednesday that prohibits adults from helping minors obtain an abortion without the consent of the minor’s parent or guardian.
This new law creates a new crime called “abortion trafficking” and makes it illegal for adults to provide abortion pills or to “recruit, harbor, or transport” a pregnant minor without the consent of their parent or guardian. Anyone who violates the law will be subject to a two to a five-year prison sentence and could be sued by the minor’s parent or guardian.
However, the law exempts parents who raped their children from being able to sue. Criminal penalties for those who helped a minor obtain an abortion will remain in effect.
To avoid violating the constitutional right to travel between states, the law only applies to the in-state segment of a trip to an out-of-state abortion provider. This is the first law of its kind in the United States and is expected to have significant implications for reproductive rights and access to abortion in Idaho.
The law has sparked controversy and criticism from reproductive rights activists who argue that it infringes upon a woman’s right to choose and could lead to dangerous consequences for young girls who may seek unsafe abortion methods.
Supporters of the law argue that it protects parental rights and ensures that minors are not coerced into getting abortions without their parents’ knowledge or consent.
Idaho’s law follows a trend of similar legislation being introduced and passed in several other states across the U.S. in recent years, as lawmakers and activists on both sides of the abortion debate continue to push their agendas forward.
Opponents vow legal battle.
“Yet again, Idaho’s governor disregarded constituents and signed HB 242 into law, creating the nation’s first crime of so-called ‘abortion trafficking.’ This legislation is despicable, and we’re going to do everything in our power to stop it,” Idaho State Director for Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates wrote on Twitter.
Idaho is one of the 13 states that already have strict abortion laws that ban the procedure in all stages of pregnancy. Additionally, it’s among a few states that have laws penalizing those who assist individuals of any age in obtaining an abortion.
Leaders in Washington, Oregon, and California have promoted their states as safe havens for those seeking abortions, and lawmakers in Oregon and Washington are currently proposing bills to protect abortion providers and patients from criminal liability.
Oregon’s proposed legislation would permit physicians to provide abortions to individuals of any age, and in certain cases, bar them from disclosing that information to parents.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights, 36 states require parental involvement in a minor’s decision to have an abortion. However, most states permit exceptions under specific circumstances, such as medical emergencies.