Judge blocks Idaho AG from prosecuting doctors for alleged 'abortion trafficking'
An Idaho district court judge Monday ordered the state's Republican Attorney General Raúl Labrador to refrain from charging physicians who refer patients to out-of-state abortion providers, Politico reports.
Politico Senior Political Affairs Reporter Josh Gerstein shared a link to the judge's decision Monday via Twitter, writing, "BREAKING: Judge enjoins Idaho AG from enforcing state's abortion ban by prosecuting doctors for referring patients to abortion providers out of state."
The ruling comes months after Idaho Republican Governor Brad Little signed a GOP-backed bill that created "a new crime of 'abortion trafficking,'" establishing "a minimum two-year prison sentence — and a maximum of five years — for anyone found guilty of committing it."
Following the Republican lawmakers' bill proposal in March, Idaho Senate Minority Leader Melissa Wintrow (D-19), toldThe Washington Post the bill "cheapens the term 'human trafficking' and that's shameful," and that "Human trafficking is a terrible crime where one person takes another person against their will. It is very different from helping a young woman seek medical care without her parents' knowledge."
The ruling reads:
Earlier this year, Attorney General Labrador drafted a letter interpreting this sentence of Section 18-622: "The professional license of any health care professional who . . . assists in performing or attempting to perform an abortion . . . shall be suspended . . . .'"That letter interprets the "assisting" language to include providing information about or referring patients to legal out-of-state abortion services. Plaintiffs Planned Parenthood Greater Northwest, Caitlin Gustafson, M.D., and Darin L. Weyhrich, M.D. (collectively the "Medical Providers"), seek to enjoin the Attorney General, Members of the Idaho State Board of Medicine and Board of Nursing,1 and the Prosecuting Attorneys for every Idaho county from bringing criminal cases and licensing actions based on that statutory interpretation. Following the Medical Providers' request for a preliminary injunction, Attorney General Labrador and certain county prosecutors (collectively "the State") filed a competing motion to dismiss (Dkt. 41), claiming that various justiciability doctrines demand that the complaint be dismissed.2
Furthermore, the judge writes:
The Court will: (1) grant the Medical Providers' motion for a preliminary injunction as it pertains to Attorney General Labrador; (2) deny the motion with respect to the members of the Idaho State Board of Medicine and Board of Nursing; and (3) deny the State's motion to dismiss.
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