Planned Parenthood Sues Over Idaho’s Out-of-State Abortion Referral Ban

Planned Parenthood and two doctors sued Idaho’s Attorney General and others in federal court on Wednesday over a letter asserting that Idaho’s criminal ban on abortions prohibits medical providers from referring women out of state to access abortion services.

Under Idaho Code Section 18-622, anyone who performs or attempts to perform an abortion is guilty of a felony and subject to two to five years in prison. One who performs, attempts to perform, or assists in the performance or attempted performance of an abortion in violation of the law may also have their license suspended for at least six months upon a first offense and permanently upon a subsequent offense.

There are no exceptions to the law, although it does allow those prosecuted to assert an affirmative defense that the abortion was necessary to prevent the death of the pregnant woman or that the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest reported to law enforcement.

The Attorney General’s letter asserts that “An Idaho health care professional who refers a woman across state lines to an abortion provider or who prescribes abortion pills for the woman across state lines has given support or aid to the woman in performing or attempting to perform an abortion and has thus violated the statute.” 

The complaint asserts that the Idaho Attorney General’s March 27, 2023 interpretation of the state’s abortion law violates the First Amendment by imposing unreasonable restrictions on speech, and violates the Commerce Clause and the Due Process Clause by applying the state’s law extraterritorially to regulate and criminalize out-of-state activity.

Additional Reading

Planned Parenthood sues to block Idaho ban on out-of-state abortion referrals, Reuters (April 5, 2023)

Planned Parenthood Complaint – April 5, 2023

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