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Idaho's 'abortion trafficking’ bill goes to the Senate floor

James Dawson
Boise State Public Radio
Rep. Barbara Ehardt (R-Idaho Falls)

People who help Idaho minors get abortions, including in states where the procedure is legal, could face felony charges under a bill sent to the Senate floor Monday.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Barbara Ehardt (R-Idaho Falls), defines “abortion trafficking” as an adult “recruiting, harboring, or transporting the pregnant minor within this state” without the parent’s consent.

The crime would be a felony, punishable by two to five years in prison. Obtaining abortion drugs for a minor would also qualify.

In the Senate State Affairs Committee Monday, Ehardt described it as a “parental rights” bill.

“This gives us the tools to go after those who would subvert a parent’s right to be able to make those decisions in conjunction with their child,” she said.

Those who help a minor get an abortion would need to prove that the parent approved of the decision through an affirmative defense.

Under a civil clause of the bill, family members of the minor or the person who impregnated them could sue medical professionals who helped facilitate the abortion for at least $20,000. A person who impregnates a minor through rape or incest would not be allowed to sue.

The bill originally said physicians couldn’t use their malpractice insurance to cover the costs of the civil damages, but an amendment presented Monday would remove that section.

Mistie DelliCarpini-Tolman, the Idaho State Director for Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates, said the organization strongly opposes the bill. She said it would harm youth, including those who don’t feel comfortable talking with their parents about their pregnancy.

“Rather than protecting Idahoans, this bill could put vulnerable young people at significant risk by discouraging them from talking to trusted adults and seeking the help they need,” she said.

The committee voted on a party-line vote to send the bill to the Senate floor, with Democrats opposing it. Senators will consider some amendments to the bill, which previously passed the House with 57 ‘yes’ votes.

Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen

Copyright 2023 Boise State Public Radio

I cover environmental issues, outdoor recreation and local news for Boise State Public Radio. Beyond reporting, I contribute to the station’s digital strategy efforts and enjoy thinking about how our work can best reach and serve our audience. The best part of my job is that I get to learn something new almost every day.

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