WASHINGTON — Idaho Republican Gov. Brad Little signed into law on April 5 legislation that makes it illegal for an adult to help a minor get an abortion without parental consent — the first measure of its kind in the country.
The law makes it a crime to be involved in “abortion trafficking,” or helping a minor to obtain an abortion, saying that adults who obtain abortion pills for a pregnant minor or who help transport a pregnant minor for an abortion across state lines could face up to five years in prison if convicted.
To be prosecuted under the law, the crime must be committed “with the intent to conceal an abortion from the parents or guardian of a pregnant, unemancipated minor.”
The law also gives the parents of any minor — who has been trafficked and whose unborn child was aborted — the right to sue the abortionists.
“The bill is more about parental rights than abortion,” said Deacon Gene Fadness, communications director for the Diocese of Boise, Idaho.
He said that while the Catholic Church opposes abortion, it knows that a parent, legal guardian, or a designee with a parent’s consent has the right to take a child across the border and get an abortion or to cede that authority to another family member.
“The law ensures that parents are the ones who are in charge of their children and need to be involved in helping to make these decisions,” he said in a statement to The Tablet.
When the Idaho Senate passed this measure on March 30, Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life, said it “protects parents’ rights to be involved in their minor daughter’s decision.
“Parents have the right to love their daughter and be there for her in her time of need. No one should take that away,” she added.
In a press release, the National Right to Life Committee said the Idaho law is based on the model the committee drafted last June after the Dobbs v. Jackson ruling that left abortion laws up to the states.
Missouri passed similar legislation in 2005 that prohibits aiding a minor in obtaining an abortion without her parents’ consent. Currently, abortions are banned in Missouri, but it is legal to travel out of state to get an abortion.
Idaho is one of 13 states where abortion is considered illegal at all stages of pregnancy, along with Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, which conducts research on abortion, 36 states require parental involvement in a minor’s decision to have an abortion, but many allow exceptions under certain circumstances, such as medical emergencies.
Opponents have said they will fight Idaho’s new legislation.
Idaho shares a border with several states where abortion is legal, including Washington, Oregon, and Montana, and it is close to California.
The Democratic governors of California, Washington, and Oregon have said they will defend patients and care providers in abortion procedures. Oregon and Washington’s legislators are also considering bills to protect patients and providers from criminal liabili