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Other States May Copy Idaho's New Crime Of 'Abortion Trafficking'

Amid a flood of residents fleeing states that ban abortions to seek legal procedures or medication elsewhere, Idaho has become the first state to try to stem that exodus, at least for minors.

Abortion is illegal in Idaho and a dozen other states. The law signed by Idaho Gov. Brad Little Wednesday creates a new crime of “abortion trafficking,” threatening prosecution for any adult who helps transport a pregnant Idaho girl to get an abortion without her parents' consent.

Abortion rights advocates and legal expertsexpect other states to follow Idaho’s approach and to extend interstate travel prohibitions to adults, reports Stateline.

The U.S. Constitution does not explicitly include a right to interstate travel, but it is implied. Idaho’s law attempts to skirt that issue by criminalizing only the in-state portion of a trip to another state to procure an abortion.

“Abortion opponents are testing the waters around abortion bans with this Idaho law, because state lawmakers realize they’re facing a real uphill climb in courts because of the federal right to travel,” said Elizabeth Nash of the Guttmacher Institute, which supports abortion rights. “Other states will be watching closely to see how this plays out.”

Idaho’s travel ban is based on wording in a model abortion law proposed by the National Right to Life Committee for lawmakers to introduce in their states.

Carol Tobias, president of the anti-abortion group, said the section of the model law on unlawful abortion trafficking of minors “is intended to send a strong message that parents are responsible for their girls and nobody else should be taking their daughters to medical appointments without their knowledge.”

Providing information on abortions is allowed under Idaho’s new criminal statute. Giving abortion pills to a pregnant girl or harboring or transporting her without a parent’s consent is punishable by two to five years in prison. The law also allows family members to sue any health care provider, whether in-state or out-of-state, who performs an abortion on an Idaho minor.

Rebecca Gibron of Planned Parenthood Great Northwest said her organization intends to challenge the law.


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