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Federal Judge Pauses Idaho Abortion Trafficking Ban

A federal judge granted a temporary restraining order against the Idaho abortion trafficking ban, putting the law on pause, Courthouse News reports. Idaho legislators passed House Bill 242, or the “abortion trafficking ban,” in March 2023, criminalizing any adult who assists a minor in obtaining abortion medication or a lawful abortion out of state without parental consent. Anyone found guilty of helping minors without their parent’s or guardian’s consent would face two to five years in prison and could be sued by the minor’s legal guardians with limited exceptions. The fate of that law is currently under review from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals after a three-judge panel of Donald Trump appointees ruled in September that Idaho could enforce the law. In July 2023, Idaho attorney Lourdes Matsumoto joined Northwest Abortion Access Fund and Indigenous Idaho Alliance in suing Idaho Attorney General Raúl Labrador over HB 242.

Labrador’s analysis of the law asserted Idaho’s ban not only criminalizes abortion within the state but also prohibited an Idaho medical provider from referring a woman across state lines to access abortion services. Following a hearing for Labrador’s motion to dismiss in September, U.S. Magistrate Judge Debora K. Grasham found that three of the plaintiff’s four constitutional claims were plausible, granting them a temporary restraining order to preliminarily prevent Labrador from enforcing the law until further notice. “What the state cannot do is craft a statute muzzling the speech and expressive activities of a particular viewpoint with which the state disagrees under the guise of parental rights, as Idaho Code Section 18-623 does here,” Gresham wrote. Where the judge disagreed with the plaintiffs was whether the law violated their right to intrastate travel or freedom of movement.


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