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Idaho legislature passes 'abortion trafficking' ban

Roam Yocham
Boise State Public Radio

Idaho could become the first state in the country, according to Planned Parenthood, to criminally charge those who help pregnant minors get an abortion without parental consent.

If convicted, that person could face two to five years in prison under the bill passed by the Idaho Senate Thursday.

Neighboring Oregon, Montana, Washington and Wyoming currently allow abortions with varying levels of restrictions.

Sen. Scott Herndon (R-Sagel) supported the bill, but he wanted it to go further.

“Neither a parent nor a guardian should be allowed protection from trafficking a minor for purposes of an abortion outside the state,” Herndon said.

Supporters call the potential crime “abortion trafficking” – something Senate Minority Leader Melissa Wintrow (D-Boise) said cheapens the experience of human trafficking victims forced into slavery or prostitution.

It also doesn’t account for minors who were raped and impregnated by their fathers who aren’t able to safely tell law enforcement, Wintrow said.

“It is unnecessary and unneeded and further shackles young girls who are in trouble, who need help, and then it harms the parents’ friends, the relatives, etc., who are trying to help her,” she said.

Idaho has some of the strictest abortion laws in the country, only allowing them to be performed in cases of rape, incest, or if the mother would die without one.

It also allows family members and the father of an aborted fetus to file civil lawsuits against doctors who perform an abortion outside of those exceptions for $20,000 per violation.

Currently, rapists can’t sue but a Senate amendment to the legislation would delete that part of the code and allow rapists to bring a civil case.

House lawmakers agreed to that change Thursday afternoon.

Opponents questioned the legality of the legislation since federal law regulates interstate travel. Sen. Todd Lakey (R-Nampa) rejects that, saying the crime takes place in Idaho when a person conceals the trip to an abortion clinic from the parent.

“We have the authority and the obligation and the opportunity to establish criminal laws in Idaho, and to take those acts in Idaho, that’s what we’re saying is a crime,” Lakey said.

The bill now goes to Gov. Brad Little’s desk for consideration.

Should it become law, Rebecca Gibron, CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, told the Idaho Capital Sun this week the organization intends to challenge it.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

Copyright 2023 Boise State Public Radio

I cover politics and a bit of everything else for Boise State Public Radio. Outside of public meetings, you can find me fly fishing, making cool things out of leather or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season. If you have a tip, please get in touch!