Idaho bill would ban ‘abortion trafficking’ for minors traveling for procedure
“The recruitment, harboring or transportation of the pregnant minor in this state commits the crime of abortion trafficking,” the legislation says.
The bill passed the Idaho House with ease earlier this month and is expected to pass the state Senate after some amendments were made to the proposal. The bill is expected to eventually be signed into law by Gov. Brad Little (R), who has long supported the state’s six-week abortion ban.
State Representative Barbara Ehardt (R), one of the bill’s sponsors, this week defended the “abortion trafficking” proposal as a “parental rights” bill. Anyone convicted of the crime could face between two and five years in prison, according to the bill. A civil clause included in the bill would allow family members of the minor or the person who impregnated her to sue the doctors who helped facilitate the procedure for at least $20,000.
“It gives us the tools to sue those who would deny a parent’s right to be able to make those decisions collaboratively with their child,” Ehardt said this week, according to Boise State Public Radio.
Idaho Senate Minority Leader Melissa Wintrow (D) denounced the bill in a statement to The Washington Post, saying the proposal ‘depreciates the term ‘human trafficking’ and that is shameful “.
“Human trafficking is a terrible crime where one person takes another against their will,” Wintrow said. “It’s very different to help a young woman get treatment without her parents knowing.”
Ehardt did not immediately respond to a request for comment early Wednesday. The Republican told HuffPost that the purpose of the legislation was to prevent minors from traveling out of state for an abortion without parental consent, saying parents still have the right to take their child elsewhere for get the procedure.
“It’s already illegal to have an abortion here in the state of Idaho,” she said. “So that would be like taking that child across the border, and if that happens without the parent’s permission, that’s where we can hold accountable those who violate a parent’s right.”
She added: “What we want to make sure is that parents are the ones in charge of their children.”
The next vote on the bill comes about a week after a rural Idaho hospital announced it would stop delivering babies or providing other obstetric care due, in part, to the “legal climate and policy” surrounding abortion in the state. Officials at Bonner General Health in Sandpoint, Idaho, said in a news release that a shortage of pediatricians and fewer deliveries also contributed to his decision, which came after trigger laws banned almost all abortions after the repeal of Roe vs. Wade Last year.
“The Idaho Legislature continues to introduce and pass bills that criminalize physicians for medical care that is nationally recognized as the standard of care,” the hospital said in the news release.
Idaho hospital will stop delivering, in part because of ‘political climate’
Idaho is among the states with the strictest abortion laws in the country. The six-week ban that came into effect in August prohibits abortions except in cases of rape, incest or when a woman’s life is in danger and does not contain an exception when a woman’s health pregnant person is in danger. A judge blocked the part of the ban that would have criminalized the act of performing an abortion to protect the patient’s health.
Idaho’s bill blocking interstate travel for an abortion isn’t the first time the issue has come to a vote. In 2005, Nevada Senator John Ensign (right) introduced a bill that would have banned ‘taking minors across state lines by circumventing laws requiring parental involvement in child care decisions’ ‘abortion”. While the proposal found the support of President George W. Bush – “I appreciate the efforts of the Senate to preserve the integrity of state law and protect the families of our nation,” he had told the era – several versions of the bill failed between 2005 and 2006.
The Idaho abortion “trafficking” bill was introduced last month and passed by a party vote of 57-12-1 on March 7 after less than 10 minutes of discussion on the floor of the Idaho House.
The proposal has been met with criticism from Democrats, medical professionals and abortion rights supporters. Among them is Mistie DelliCarpini-Tolman, Idaho State Director for Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates, who argued to lawmakers that while “the majority of young people facing unexpected pregnancy involve their parents in their decision making », there are situations where it is not possible.
“But for young people living in violent households, disclosing sexual activity or pregnancy can trigger physical or emotional abuse, including direct physical or sexual violence, or being kicked out of the home,” she said. this week, according to KMVT.
Wintrow echoed those concerns to the Post, saying a majority of young women who become pregnant are already asking their parents for help and guidance — “those who have no reason for their secrecy, including potential abuse or abandonment”. She also criticized the bill’s civil clause which could trigger lawsuits from relatives “whether or not they have a relationship with the young woman at the center of the dispute”.
“It’s disappointing that Idaho lawmakers are encouraging lawsuits, many of which are frivolous and harmful to young women,” the Democrat said.
Since Republicans outnumber Democrats in the state legislature by a ratio of nearly 4 to 1, the bill is generally expected to pass the state Senate once amendments are tabled in the State House.
Brittany Shammas, Marisa Iati, Perry Stein and Caroline Kitchener contributed to this report.