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Idaho Is Trying to Invent a New Crime: ‘Abortion Trafficking’

Protestors hold up signs saying "My Rights Today Your Rights Tomorrow" and "Bans off our Bodies"

Since last year’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, Republicans have gone whole hog on blocking access to abortion. Now, a new bill in Idaho, HB242, seeks to invent a new crime: “abortion trafficking.”

The bill, which passed in Idaho’s house and now moves on to the state senate, would make it a felony to help a minor get an abortion without the consent of their parents. The text of the bill states that:

An adult who, with the intent to conceal an abortion from the parents or guardian of a pregnant, unemancipated minor, either procures an abortion, as described in section 18-604, Idaho Code, or obtains an abortion-inducing drug for the pregnant minor to use for an abortion by recruiting, harboring, or transporting the pregnant minor within this state commits the crime of abortion trafficking.

What this means is that if a minor needs an abortion but can’t tell their parents, any other adult who tries to help them in any way—from receiving a package containing abortion pills to giving the minor a ride to a bus stop—can be charged with the felony of “abortion trafficking.” An abortion trafficking conviction would carry a prison sentence of two to five years.

As legal scholar David Cohen points out to the Huffington Post, most forms of abortion are already illegal in Idaho. This new law would attempt to curb out-of-state abortions by preventing people from driving to the state border so that they can enter a neighboring state where abortion is legal.

Tellingly, one of the bill’s sponsors, Barbara Ehardt, frames the bill as protecting “a parent’s right.” The minor’s right to not become a parent doesn’t factor into the bill.

Idaho’s ‘abortion trafficking’ law protects predators, not children

There are countless reasons why a minor might seek an abortion without their parents’ consent. If their parents are anti-abortion, they may force the minor to give birth. If they’re negligent or abusive, the minor might not trust them to help seek care. And then there’s the most glaringly obvious reason a minor might not trust their parents: if one of the parents is the one who impregnated them.

Simply put, this proposed law—like similar bills that Republicans have crafted over the years—gives control over a child’s body to the very people who shouldn’t have that control. When a pregnant minor doesn’t trust their own parents to help them access reproductive care, that means something has gone off the rails at home. It doesn’t mean there’s an epidemic of people kidnapping children and forcing them to have abortions.

In pushing this bill through Idaho’s legislature, Republicans are showing, yet again, where their loyalty lies—and it’s never been with the most vulnerable.

(via The Huffington Post, featured image: Natalie Behring/Getty Images)

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Julia Glassman (she/they) holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and has been covering feminism and media since 2007. As a staff writer for The Mary Sue, Julia covers Marvel movies, folk horror, sci fi and fantasy, film and TV, comics, and all things witchy. Under the pen name Asa West, she's the author of the popular zine 'Five Principles of Green Witchcraft' (Gods & Radicals Press). You can check out more of her writing at