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Idaho set to be the first state to limit interstate travel for abortion

If passed, House Bill 242 would limit pregnant minors’ ability to travel for abortion care without parental consent

Idaho is about to become the first state to restrict interstate travel for abortion. 

House Bill 242, which passed through the state House and is now extremely likely to pass through the Senate, would limit minors’ ability to travel for abortion care without their parents’ consent.

The legislation would create a whole new crime called “abortion trafficking”, defined in the bill as an instance where “adult who, with the intent to conceal an abortion from the parents or guardian of a pregnant, unemancipated minor, either procures an abortion … or obtains an abortion-inducing drug” for the minor.

“Recruiting, [harbouring], or transporting the pregnant minor within this state commits the crime of abortion trafficking,” the bill adds. While the legislation doesn’t say anything about crossing state lines, driving a minor from anywhere within Idaho up to the border would be criminalised.

Those found guilty of abortion trafficking would face between two to five years in prison. The legislation also includes a clause which would allow the Idaho attorney general to supersede the decision of a local prosecutor, making the law easier to enforce. 

The abortion trafficking bill is rapidly advancing through the Legislature, shaving passed along party lines in the state House earlier this month with fewer than ten minutes of floor discussion. It’s almost guaranteed that the bill will pass in the Senate, where Republicans outnumber Democrats. Idaho’s governor Brad Little, a devout anti-abortion advocate, is likely to sign the bill into law.

Several large health organisations agree that a pregnant minor should not need parental consent in accessing abortion care, including the American Medical Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Idaho already has some of the most extreme abortion legislation in the whole of the US. Nearly all abortions are banned in the state except in medical emergencies, and an affirmative defence law means that any doctor who provides an abortion is essentially considered ‘guilty until proven innocent’. 

It’s possible other states could follow suit with similar legislation that limits interstate travel for abortion, with lawmakers in other states such as Missouri already introducing bills aimed at travelling out-of-state for appropriate abortion care.