A judge decided to block Idaho’s “abortion trafficking” ban Wednesday, arguing that it would restrict a doctor’s right to free speech “under the guise of parental rights,” according to the ruling.
Republican Idaho Gov. Brad Little signed the law, House Bill 242, in April, which banned any adult from hiding an abortion from “parents or guardian of a pregnant, unemancipated minor” or attempting to get “an abortion-inducing drug for the pregnant minor to use for an abortion by recruiting, harboring, or transporting the pregnant minor within this state,” according to the text. Pro-abortion advocates filed a lawsuit in July, and U.S. Magistrate Judge Debora K. Grasham agreed with several of the plaintiffs’ concerns about chilling a doctor’s freedom of expression, according to the ruling.
“The state can, and Idaho does, criminalize certain conduct occurring in its own borders such as abortion, kidnapping and human trafficking,” Grasham wrote. “What the state cannot do is craft a statute muzzling the speech and expressive activities of a particular viewpoint with which the state disagrees under the guise of parental rights, as Idaho Code Section 18-623 does here.”
Abortion is completely banned in the state following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in June 2022 with a limited exception if a doctor determines it is necessary to save the life of the mother, according to the law. The state took the law further by stopping doctors from recommending patients go to other states for an abortion and also prohibiting minors from being “trafficked” to another state for an abortion.
Republican state Rep. Barbara Ehardt of Idaho Falls, who authored the legislation, argued that it would prevent human traffickers from being able to take minors out of state without parental consent to get an abortion, according to the Idaho Capital Sun. Grasham said, however, that the state had threatened to prosecute physicians who help patients obtain an abortion in another state and therefore “established an injury in fact that is sufficiently concrete, particular, and imminent,” according to the ruling.
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