By Ruth Brown, Idaho Reports
Gov. Brad Little signed a bill on Wednesday that would make it a felony for any adult to assist a juvenile in getting an abortion without the girl’s parent’s consent.
H 242 overwhelmingly passed both the House and the Senate this session.
Any person convicted of “abortion trafficking” would face a felony crime punishable by two to five years in prison. All abortion is illegal in Idaho, with rare exceptions for reported rape, incest and the life of the mother.
In his transmittal letter, Little wrote that with the reversal of Roe v. Wade, it is the state’s duty to establish legal policy on abortion.
“Section 1 of House Bill 242 does not criminalize, preclude, or otherwise impair interstate travel, nor does it limit an adult woman from obtaining an abortion in another state. Rather, the ‘abortion trafficking’ provision in the bill seeks only to prevent unemancipated minor girls from being taken across state lines for an abortion without the knowledge and consent of her parent or guardian,” Little wrote.
On Tuesday, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee wrote a letter to Little asking him to veto the bill. Inslee argued that as a neighboring state, all Washingtonians have a stake in the matter.
“I question the constitutionality of this law and I know you are aware of the costly legal challenges that await should you choose to sign this bill, but, as the governor of a neighboring state, I am also deeply concerned about the impacts that (Engrossed House Bill) 242 will have on Washington residents traveling to and from Idaho,” Inslee wrote. “I fear that our residents, in particular the women and girls of Washington, will be in grave danger if they travel to your state and find themselves in need of urgent reproductive health care services. This bill would also attempt to punish some Washington residents who happen to be in your state for any length of time, a gross abuse of their right to travel between our states.”
The nearest out-of-state abortion clinics for most Idahoans are in Oregon and Washington. In Washington, minors can legally get an abortion without parental consent. In Oregon, girls 15 and older can get an abortion without parental consent, but girls 14 and younger do need parental permission. Montana law requires parental permission, but that law is temporarily enjoined by a court order, meaning the policy isn’t in effect. Wyoming and Utah have bans on elective abortions.
Inslee’s letter welcomed Idaho residents in need of legal health care.
“But, make no mistake, Governor Little, the laws of another state that seek to punish anyone in Washington for lawful actions taken in Washington will not stand,” Inslee wrote. “We will protect our providers, and we will harbor and comfort your residents who seek health care services that are denied to them in Idaho.”
The Idaho bill also includes a civil cause of action that allows a lawsuit to be brought against the medical professional who assisted the woman in getting an abortion under these circumstances for no less than $20,000. The lawsuit may be brought by a relative of the terminated fetus, including the father, sibling, grandparents, or aunt or uncle. The lawsuit may not be brought by the father if the pregnancy is result of rape or incest but could still be brought by a family member of the rapist.