Idaho Governor Brad Little signed House Bill 242 on Wednesday, making it a felony to assist a minor in traveling to another state for an abortion without parental consent. This new law, which takes effect in 30 days, is the first of its kind in the United States and is likely to face legal challenges from groups like Planned Parenthood.
The bill, sponsored by Republican Rep. Barbara Ehardt, seeks to prevent the trafficking of minors for the purpose of obtaining an abortion without the knowledge or consent of their parents or guardians. Under the new law, individuals who violate this provision could face up to five years in prison, the Statesman reports.
In a letter to lawmakers, Governor Little clarified that the law does not prohibit interstate travel or prevent adults from obtaining abortions. Rather, it only applies to unemancipated minor girls who are taken across state lines for an abortion without the knowledge and consent of their parent or guardian.
The law does allow for an affirmative defense to prosecution if the parent or guardian of the pregnant minor consents to the trafficking of the minor. However, there is concern among Democrats that the lack of clarity around who qualifies as a parent could lead to legal chaos. For example, a non-custodial parent could consent to a minor's abortion without consulting the custodial parent.
Planned Parenthood and other groups are expected to challenge the law in court. Mistie DelliCarpini-Tolman, Idaho state director for Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates, said in a news release that they will do everything in their power to stop what they say is harmful legislation from spreading across the country.
Meanwhile, supporters of the bill say it is necessary to protect minors from being trafficked for abortions. Rep. Ehardt told the House State Affairs Committee in February that the bill will ensure that there is top-notch legal authority to deal with this issue.
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