Idaho Republicans invent 'abortion trafficking' crime to block minors from care

Idaho Republicans invent 'abortion trafficking' crime to block minors from care

Reproductive rights advocates and Democratic state lawmakers in Idaho on Wednesday condemned a Republican proposal to create a new crime in the state using the invented term "abortion trafficking," which would criminalize people who help minors to obtain out-of-state abortion care.

The bill (H.B. 242) is widely expected to pass in the state Senate and easily passed in the state House earlier this month on a party-line vote, with 57 Republicans supporting the proposal and and 12 Democrats opposing it. GOP Gov. Brad Little, who has strongly supported the state's abortion ban, is expected to sign the legislation.

H.B. 242 would establish so-called "abortion trafficking" as a new crime and would restrict minors' ability to travel to get abortion care without parental consent.

Any 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 a minor could face felony charges and up to five years in prison.

Family members of a minor who obtains an abortion across state lines—or the person who impregnated the minor—would be permitted to sue the providers who helped facilitate the procedure for a minimum of $20,000.

Idaho Senate Minority Leader Melissa Wintrow (D-19), toldThe Washington Post that the legislation "cheapens the term 'human trafficking' and that's shameful."

"Human trafficking is a terrible crime where one person takes another person against their will," Wintrow added. "It is very different from helping a young woman seek medical care without her parents' knowledge."

Last August, one of the nation's most restrictive anti-abortion laws went into effect in Idaho, two months after the right-wing majority on the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

The law bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy—before many people know they are pregnant—with exceptions in cases involving rape or incest or when the pregnant person's life is in danger. Exceptions to save a pregnant person's life have already resulted in medical providersrefusing to provide care in cases when the patient is growing progressively sicker and their fetus has no chance of survival.

Women's March said the bill is likely "the first of many fascist, unconstitutional bills" that will seek to limit pregnant people's ability to travel for abortion care.

Mistie DelliCarpini-Tolman, the Idaho state director for Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates, told lawmakers this week that the legislation will place many vulnerable young pregnant people in harm's way.

"For young people living in abusive households, disclosing sexual activity or a pregnancy can trigger physical or emotional abuse, including direct, physical or sexual violence, or being thrown out of the home," saidDelliCarpini-Tolman.

Republicans in the state are seeking to further criminalize abortion care days after the state's northernmost hospital announced it will soon close its obstetrics department, citing staffing issues that have following Idaho's abortion ban.

On Tuesday, Republicans in the state announced they would not consider a bill to expand postpartum Medicaid coverage.

"Last year, legislators said they wanted to pass policies to support the health of mothers," Hillarie Hagan, health policy associate for the advocacy group Idaho Voices for Children, told News From the States, "and now they're about to leave town without passing House Bill 201, which would've done just that."

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