Helping a minor travel to another state for an abortion without parental consent will be a felony in Idaho next month, barring a successful court challenge.
Republican Idaho Gov. Brad Little on Wednesday signed House Bill 242. It prohibits traveling with a minor to another state for an abortion, or helping a minor obtain an abortion-inducing drug, without consulting one of their parents or guardians. The “abortion trafficking” crime is punishable by up to five years in prison.
Little wrote in a letter to lawmakers that the law doesn’t prohibit interstate travel or block an adult from obtaining an abortion.
“Rather, the ‘abortion trafficking’ provision of 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,” Little wrote.
The new law is the first of its kind in the U.S., according to Planned Parenthood, which is likely to bring a legal challenge.
“We’ve seen how fast harmful legislation can catch on and spread across the country. Here in Idaho, we’re going to do everything in our power to stop it,” Mistie DelliCarpini-Tolman, Idaho state director for Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates, said in a news release.
Rep. Barbara Ehardt, R-Idaho Falls, sponsored House Bill 242.
“It is something that, unfortunately, is happening, and I don’t think any of us want to see our minors not only trafficked but in this situation,” Ehardt told the House State Affairs Committee in February. “We will make sure that we have top-notch legal authority to deal with this.”
HB 242 allows an affirmative defense to prosecution — an opportunity to present evidence in court that negates a charge — if a “parent or guardian of the pregnant minor consented to trafficking of the minor.”
But Reps. John Gannon and Chris Mathias, both D-Boise, sent a letter Sunday to Little, urging the governor to veto the bill because of a lack of clarity around who qualifies as a parent.
The law doesn’t define “parent,” which will result in legal “chaos,” Boise family law attorney Johnathan Baldauf said in a news release distributed by the Democratic lawmakers. For example, it could allow a parent without custody of their child — perhaps because of a hostile relationship — to consent to a minor’s abortion, the news release said.
“This bill completely ignores child custody orders and parental rights when it arbitrarily allows a non-custodial parent to cut a custodial parent out of the picture,” Mathias said in the release.
The law is scheduled to take effect in 30 days.