Thursday, June 01, 2023

And So, Idaho

Almost, but not quite this bad.

In early April, the CBS affiliate in Boise reported

Minors in Idaho can no longer cross state lines to get a legal abortion without parental consent.

Idaho Gov. Brad Little signed House Bill 242 (HB242) into law on Wednesday, five days after the state House sent it to his desk for approval. Under this new law, anyone who helps a pregnant minor obtain a legal abortion in another state without the permission of the minor's parents may face jail time.

HB 242 also makes it illegal for someone to obtain abortion pills for a minor without parental consent; it also prohibits “recruiting, harboring, or transporting the pregnant minor" without parental permission. If someone is convicted of "abortion trafficking," they face two to five years in prison, according to the bill text. The bill also allows prosecutors to bring forth charges within four years after the action. No other state has enacted this type of legislation, and would make Idaho the most restricted state for any abortion access.

Therefore, this pertains only to pregnant girls crossing state lines for an abortion without parental consent. For now. And it's bad enough because, as Moira Donegan of The Guardian noted before passage of the bill, it

would criminalize an aunt or grandmother who drives a teenage girl over the border for a legal abortion in Oregon. It would make a felon of the school friend who lends her money for a bus ticket, or the older sister who takes her to the post office to pick up a package with secretly mailed pills. The legislation also contains a provision giving the Idaho attorney general the ability to override the jurisdiction of local prosecutors on this charge – so if a local DA doesn’t want to prosecute those who help scared and desperate teenagers, the state can enforce its sadism anyway.

Last year, Idaho's state legislature passed, and the Little guy signed, three bills, described here as "one regarding Idaho’s law to ban nearly all abortions that will take effect Aug. 25; one similar ban that allows abortions up to six weeks of pregnancy that will take effect Aug. 19; and a Texas-style civil law that allows family members to sue medical providers who perform an abortion." A suit filed by the Justice Department against one of the measures is pending.

The tweeter quoted above may be on to something beyond what he is alleging. A little over a year ago, Human Rights Watch published a report entitled "Human Rights Crisis: Abortion in the United States After Dobbs." Despite noting "pregnant individuals themselves are also at risk of criminalization," HRW could identify only one state in which prosecuting the woman securing abortion can be prosecuted. 

That state is Idaho. in which a 1973 (the year of Roe v. Wade, coincidentally or otherwise) statue was enacted reading "every woman who knowingly submits to an abortion or solicits of another, for herself, the production of an abortion, or who purposely terminates her own pregnancy otherwise than by a live birth, shall be deemed guilty of a felony." It authorizes a prison sentence of up to five years, has not been recently addressed and thus appears still to be in effect.

So as it turns out, Idaho is different. Among the many states which are virtually abolishing a woman's reproductive freedom, it is the one in which lawmakers are so thoroughly misogynistic that they have not rescinded legislation which enables possibility of punishing an individual who pursues, pays for, and willingly submits to an abortion. Idaho may maintain this dubious distinction because the pushback upon states which have imposed various, even punitive, restrictions upon reproductive rights is nothing compared to what would transpire if states extend punishment to the pregnant woman.


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