On Thursday, March 30, the Idaho legislature passed an amended version of House Bill 242, which would codify “abortion trafficking” as a felony punishable by two to five years in prison. The bill makes it illegal to recruit, harbor, or transport a pregnant minor within the state to procure an abortion or obtain an abortion-inducing drug if the person intends to conceal the abortion from the minor’s parents or guardians. Although not explicitly mentioned in the text, the bill also criminalizes travel that starts in Idaho and ends in another state where abortion is legal.
Although parental consent is an affirmative defense, the abortion or abortion-inducing drug provider being in another state is not. The bill also allows the attorney general to prosecute abortion trafficking in cases where local prosecutors refuse to enforce the law.
Prior to its passage, the Senate amended the bill to expressly exclude providing information about a health benefit plan from the meaning of "procure an abortion" and "obtain an abortion-inducing drug."
The original version of the Idaho bill tracked a model law published by the National Right to Life Committee almost verbatim. Health insurance providers should continue to track whether other states (1) attempt to impose similar restrictions and (2) ultimately decide to clarify the language in the model law to exclude providing benefits-related information.
The bill now heads to Governor Brad Little’s desk. Governor Little could sign the bill, veto it, or allow it to become law without his signature. Even if the governor vetos the bill, the legislature will likely have the votes to override.