A law that would make it illegal for anyone to assist children in obtaining abortions without parental approval has been adopted by the Idaho legislature. If signed into law by Governor Brad Little, a Republican who has expressed support for strict abortion laws in Idaho, this would be the first law of its sort in the United States. This proposed law would prohibit “abortion trafficking” by making it illegal for an adult to provide a minor with abortion pills or to “recruit, harbor, or transport the pregnant minor” without the appropriate agreement of the minor’s parent or legal guardian.
Breaking this law could result in a two to five-year jail sentence and potential civil action taken against the accused by the minor’s parent or legal guardian. However, parents who may have raped their child can’t register legal action against anyone who aided their child in obtaining an abortion. To dodge accusations of violating constitutional right to travel between states, the bill would make in-state travel to an out-of-state abortion provider illegal. Governor Little will have five days to either sign, veto, or let the bill become law without his signature after it arrives at his desk.
There are presently just 13 states with a total prohibition on abortion, and Idaho is one of the few that also criminalizes anyone who aid people of any age in obtaining an abortion. If the measure passes into law, opponents have promised legal action. Certainly, we will be fighting this with all that we’ve got,” Mack Smith, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates, said. There is no possible way that this is legal.
During Thursday’s Senate discussion, Democratic Senator Melissa Wintrow voiced opposition to the bill, saying that it “further shackles young girls that need help” and is harmful to those who might otherwise try to help them. Senator Todd Lakey (R-Wis.), a bill cosponsor and proponent, argued that the legislation would “help protect our kids” and reduce the number of abortions performed without the agreement of the parents.
Under the new law, both parents must be made aware of their child’s intention to get an abortion in another state. Rep. Chris Mathias, a Democrat from Idaho, pointed out that the state has the worst rate of rape and incest in the country, and that many of the victims are children who were mistreated by their parents. According to Mathias, “potentially a felonious, incestuous, rapist father” must be made aware of the abortion. However, Democratic Senator James Ruchti warned that the law would be difficult to enforce.
Pro-life group National Right to Life applauded the legislation, saying it would ensure parents had a say in their children’s reproductive decisions. Parents have an obligation to support and comfort their daughter in her time of need. Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life, said in a press release that no one should be able to take that away. The Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion rights think tank, reports that parental consent is needed in 36 states for minors to get an abortion. Most of these jurisdictions, however, provide allowances for special cases like medical emergency.