Idaho abortion trafficking bill is heading to the Senate to be amended

Published: Mar. 28, 2023 at 3:35 AM MDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

BOISE, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) —Idaho may soon have another abortion law on the books, as legislation that would prohibit an adult from taking a pregnant minor across the state line to obtain an abortion is now heading to the Senate after passing through the Senate State Affairs Committee Monday morning.

House Bill 242 states that an adult who, with the intent to conceal an abortion from the parents or guardian of a pregnant, unemancipated minor, to either procures an abortion or obtains an abortion-inducing drug for the pregnant child to use for an abortion by recruiting, harboring, or transporting the pregnant minor within the State of Idaho commits the crime of abortion trafficking.

Under the legislation, an affirmative defense exists for someone who received parental consent to transport the pregnant minor. However, there is no affirmative defense for someone transporting a pregnant child to a state where abortion is legal.

According to the bill, anyone guilty of abortion trafficking could serve up to five years in prison.

Bill sponsor Rep. Barbara Erhardt told the committee the legislation is a “parental rights” bill. The lawmaker said, under the legislation, it is perfectly legal for a parent to take a pregnant minor to a neighboring state where abortion is legal. Ehardt said the bill’s purpose is to punish those who did it without parental consent.

Those who spoke in support of the bill in the Senate State Affairs committee said the bill helps protect minors who are in abusive relationships and pressured into abortions.

“We know that pregnancies that result from abuse or human trafficking are often covered up by the abuser, forcing an abortion for the victim. Abortion only adds to the trauma that has been endured. Idaho needs to protect these women,” said a supporter of the bill.

However, Mistie DelliCarpini-Tolman, the Idaho State Director for Planned Parenthood Alliance Adv, said the legislation violates the rights of minors, and there might be situations where a minor will seek help from an older sibling or trusted adult.

“The majority of young people facing an unexpected pregnancy do involve their parents in their decision-making. But- for young children living in abusive households, disclosing sexual activity or pregnancy can trigger physical or emotional abuse, including direct physical or sexual violence, or being thrown out of the home,” she said.

Ehardt asked the committee to send the bill to the 14th Order of the Senate calendar for amendments before lawmakers can debate the bill on the Senate floor. Megan Wold of Right to Life Idaho, who helped draft language for the bill with Ehardt, said they want to clear up some confusing and concerning language in the legislation.

Wold said they wish to make it abundantly clear in the bill that the terms “obtain” and “procure” do not include providing information about a health benefit plan to a pregnant minor. Wold said some claims benefit representatives expressed some concern about that.

The legislation has a civil cause of action attached to it under Idaho’s “Fetal Heartbeat” Law. According to the law, a family member of the pregnant minor, the father of the preborn child, or the father’s family, can sue a medical professional who helped facilitate the abortion for at least $20,000. Still, a civil cause may not be brought by a person who impregnated the mother through an act of rape or incest.

Wold said they wanted to make some minor changes to the civil remedies attached to the legislation. She said they are removing the existing provision related to rape or incest and adding a broader provision that refers to rape, incest, sexual assault, or other criminal conduct.

Another change made, the bill initially said physicians couldn’t use their malpractice insurance to cover the costs of the civil damages, but now they can under an amendment to the bill.

On Monday, most of the committee members supported the legislation, with only the Democrats voicing concern.

HB242 passed the House Earlier this month, 57 to 12, with Rep. Dustin Manwaring and Rep. Richard Cheatum being the only Republicans to vote against the bill.