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Idaho Gov. Brad Little signs 'abortion trafficking' bill into law

Under this new law, anyone who helps a pregnant minor obtain a legal abortion in another state without parental consent may face jail time.

BOISE, Idaho — Minors in Idaho can no longer cross state lines to get a legal abortion without parental consent. 

Idaho Gov. Brad Little signed House Bill 242 (HB242) into law on Wednesday, five days after the state House sent it to his desk for approval. Under this new law, anyone who helps a pregnant minor obtain a legal abortion in another state without the permission of the minor's parents may face jail time.

The Idaho Senate passed HB 242 in a 27-7 vote on March 30. After the Idaho House made several amendments, lawmakers passed a bill that same day and sent it to Little's desk. The bill will become law in 30 days due to an emergency clause within the bill.

HB 242 also makes it illegal for someone to obtain abortion pills for a minor without parental consent; it also prohibits “recruiting, harboring, or transporting the pregnant minor" without parental permission. If someone is convicted of "abortion trafficking," they face two to five years in prison, according to the bill text. The bill also allows prosecutors to bring forth charges within four years after the action. No other state has enacted this type of legislation, and would make Idaho the most restricted state for any abortion access.

If local prosecutors refuse to try a case like this due to lack of evidence or any other reason, there are provisions within the bill to allow Idaho Attorney General Raúl Labrador to prosecute instead.

In his legal analysis of the bill, Labrador told the lawmaker that Idaho's criminal statute on abortion includes providing abortion pills and that law prohibits a medical provider from even referring a patient to travel across state lines to get an abortion or prescribing abortion medication for the pregnant person to pick up elsewhere.

Labrador's analysis is now being challenged by Idaho physicians and Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky. The groups are suing Labrador to stop him from applying the legal opinion.

Alexis McGill Johnson, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, issued the following statement on the governor's signing:

Banning abortion wasn’t enough for these anti-abortion zealots. They will stop at nothing to control what we do and where we go — even if it means holding people hostage when trying to access essential health services. Young people seeking abortion deserve our compassion and support, not the extreme government overreach this law sanctions. Make no mistake: HB242 will have a chilling effect on those who would help minors access critical abortion care, putting young people in dangerous and isolating situations. We know these extreme attacks will continue and Planned Parenthood will never stop fighting for everyone’s ability to control their own lives, bodies, and futures.

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