Lawyer Wants To Revive ‘Abortion Trafficking’ Law

Photo by Juan Encalada on Unsplash

( – During a hearing on Tuesday, a lawyer representing the state of Idaho urged a federal appeals court to reinstate a 2023 state law criminalizing helping a minor across state lines to get an abortion with their parent’s consent.

Speaking in favor of the law, which was blocked in November, Joshua Turner the Deputy Solicitor General for Idaho told the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals three-judge panel that since the scope of the law is “narrow,” it was “unobjectionable.”

Turner noted that the law only criminalized “recruiting, harboring or transporting” a minor when those actions were done to conceal the abortion from the minor’s parents or guardians.

Last November, a federal judge in Boise prevented the law from being enforced while she was considering a lawsuit that argued the abortion law infringed on First Amendment rights of free speech.

Lawyer and advocate Lourdes Matsumoto, who advocates for survivors of sexual violence in Idaho as part of the Northwest Abortion Access Fund and Indigenous Idaho Alliance filed the lawsuit that prompted a federal judge to block the state law.

Wendy Olson, a lawyer for the Northwest Abortion Access Fund and Indigenous Idaho Alliance, argued that the state law would “criminalize” assisting minors, which could include sharing abortion resources with minors or telling minors about having an abortion.

After hearing arguments, two of three judges, Judges John Owens and M. Margeret McKeown, seemed interested in reviving part of the law, with McKeown asking both sides if part of the law that references “recruiting” could be blocked since it could interfere with free speech. She suggested that a portion of the law could criminalize simply telling a minor about an abortion, whereas other parts of the law like transporting and harboring could remain in effect.

Turner stated that was possible. 

However, Olson argued that transporting and harboring could still infringe on protections offered by the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of association.

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