The Idaho House of Representatives passed landmark legislation making it illegal to transport minors across state lines for abortions without parental consent.
H.B. 242, sponsored by Rep. Barbara Ehardt, R-Idaho Falls, criminalizes all “abortion trafficking,” including facilitating a minor child’s out-of-state abortion or obtaining abortion drugs for minors who have been impregnated. The crime must be committed “with the intent to conceal an abortion from the parents or guardian of a pregnant, unemancipated minor” to be prosecuted under the law.
The bill also gives the parents of any minor who has been trafficked and whose unborn child was aborted the right to sue the abortionists who committed the crime, stating:
Any female upon whom an abortion has been attempted or performed, the father of the preborn child, a grandparent of the preborn child, a sibling of the preborn child, or an aunt or uncle of the preborn child may [sue].
The bill now heads to the state Senate for approval, where it is expected to pass by the end of the month.
Planned Parenthood Great Northwest (GNW), which promotes abortion and so-called “gender-affirming care” for minors in Idaho and its neighboring states, has vowed legal action should Republican Gov. Brad Little sign the bill into law.
Rebecca Gibron, CEO of Planned Parenthood GNW, said her industry plans to challenge the bill in court. “There’s no way this bill is constitutional,” Gibron said. “Even [Kavanaugh] agrees that people have a right to interstate travel for abortion.”
Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh noted in his concurring opinion in Dobbs vs. Jackson that all American citizens enjoy a constitutional right to interstate travel, regardless of the reason for crossing state lines. His opinion did not, in fact, address the issue at hand: whether adults may take the minor children of other adults over state lines without the parents’ consent.
Idaho already boasts some of the nation’s toughest legal protections for the unborn, banning the killing of unborn children at all stages except in cases of proven rape or incest and to save the life of the mother. The state’s “trigger ban” went into effect automatically following the Supreme Court’s June 2022 decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
HuffPost reporter Alanna Vaglanos claimed that these laws, as well as the abortion trafficking bill, violate the U.S. Constitution. “Similar to other abortion restrictions, the legality of the bill is suspect” because it touches on interstate travel, Vaglanos writes.
“There is nothing clear about current Supreme Court case law that mandates the result that I think is right, which is that this is unconstitutional,” Professor David Cohen, a law professor at Drexel University, told Vaglanos.
Under the new bill, anyone convicted of abortion trafficking could face up to five years in prison. Rep. Ehardt told HuffPost that the bill is more about parental rights than abortion. “A parent absolutely still has the right to take their child across the border and get an abortion,” she stated. “The parent still has the right to cede that power and authority to someone else, such as a grandparent or an aunt, to take that child, should they be pregnant, across the border and get an abortion.”
She added: “What we want to make sure of is that parents are the ones who are in charge of their children. Parents are the ones who need to be involved in helping to make these decisions.”
Efforts are underway in Washington, DC, to protect the right of states to pass this kind of legislation.
Rep. Mike Johnson, R-LA, recently introduced H.R. 792, the Child Interstate Abortion Act (CIANA), which would make it a federal crime to knowingly transport a minor across state lines with the intention of aborting her child without first satisfying her home state’s parental notification laws. Abortionists must also comply with parental notification laws under Johnson’s bill.
Like the Idaho bill, CIANA also gives the child’s parents the right to sue if their parental rights are violated. It also includes exceptions for emergency situations in which an abortion is deemed necessary to save a mother’s life.
“This bill rights a number of wrongs,” CatholicVote Director of Government Affairs Tom McClusky said of Johnson’s bill. “The whole point of Dobbs was to put the power to regulate abortion back in the hands of the people – and Rep. Johnson’s bill reaffirms that decision.”
Ever since it was legalized, “abortion has been used to cover up abuse and trafficking of young girls,” McClusky continued. “CIANA protects those young girls targeted by bringing in parents to the decision.”
This bill both affirms parents’ rights and the right that states like Idaho have to pass abortion trafficking legislation into law. CatholicVote will be pushing for a vote in the House of Representatives. This should be a top priority for Republicans.