Advocates for Youth Denounces Idaho’s So-Called “Abortion Trafficking” Law

Advocates for Youth is appalled by Idaho’s new law, H.B. 242, making it illegal for anyone to help a young person under 18 obtain abortion pills or to “recruit, harbor, or transport” a young person under 18 out of state for abortion care without their parents’ knowledge or consent. Anyone convicted of what Idaho lawmakers are disturbingly calling “abortion trafficking,” faces between two to five years in prison and be required to pay a minimum of $20,000 in statutory damages.

Similarly to S.B. 8 in Texas, this law is the first of its kind in the country and will undoubtedly  endanger youth who already face unique barriers when it comes to accessing abortion care, by making it even harder to obtain. While most young people under 18 seeking an abortion involve a parent or another supportive adult in their decision, some cannot, such as those living in unsafe home environments or those who do not have access to their parents or guardians for whatever reason. This law will likely isolate vulnerable youth by discouraging them from talking to trusted adults and seeking the help they need. 

H.B. 242 also gives the Idaho Attorney General authority to prosecute someone for allegedly violating the law, even if the county prosecutor — who would normally be responsible for filing a criminal case — chooses not to press charges. Prosecutors have four years to initiate a lawsuit. This will surely result in a chilling effect on individuals and providers who want to help young people under 18 obtain critical abortion services, which will limit access for them. 

Yet again the needs of our youth have been ignored by conservative politicians who are using the law to promote their anti-abortion agenda, instead of using it to ensure young people have access to the healthcare services they need to remain safe and healthy, and that their confidentiality is protected in the provision of that care. 

Young people deserve to be supported and cared for, and have the right to make their own healthcare decisions without government interference.