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Lawyering Project Joins Legal Voice, Stoel Rives in Filing First-in-the-Nation Lawsuit Against the State of Idaho

07.11.23 – (PRESS RELEASE) Today the Lawyering Project joined Legal Voice and Stoel Rives in filing a groundbreaking lawsuit against the State of Idaho, alleging that the recently passed ‘Abortion Travel Ban’, §18-623, offends both the First Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment due process clause, and the right to travel within and between states. Idaho, known for some of the strictest abortion laws in the Nation, is now the first state to make it illegal for an adult to help a minor obtain an abortion across state lines.

Legal Voice, along with Stoel Rives, and the Lawyering Project, are representing the Northwest Abortion Access Fund (NWAAF), the Indigenous Idaho Alliance (IIA), and one individual plaintiff, Lourdes Matsumoto, in the lawsuit.

The Idaho law makes it a felony, with two to five years of prison time, for any adult who assists a minor procure an abortion or abortion pills with the intent to conceal the abortion from the minor’s parents. The Idaho law would make this a crime even if the abortion happened in a state where the procedure is legal. While there is an affirmative defense to prosecution, even someone with parental consent can still be arrested and prosecuted.

“Idaho’s law is the first time a state has tried to criminalize the right to travel for health care,” explains Wendy Heipt, Senior Reproductive Health and Justice Counsel, Legal Voice. “It is unconstitutional to forbid citizens from traveling because you disapprove of the reasons they are driving to another state. Idahoans, like all people, should be free to travel within and between states without the specter of prison. Even if they are traveling for a reason other people disagree with. If this stands, what is next?”

Legal Voice also alleges that the law offends the First Amendment by attempting to stop people from discussing abortion with minors and it is unconstitutionally vague.

Abortion care is a fundamental part of reproductive health care,” said Lourdes Matsumoto, individual plaintiff. “The legislature and our governor continue to put up barriers that prevent pregnant people in Idaho from accessing the care they need,” added Matsumoto. “People come to me for advice at a moment in their lives when choices and options can be a matter of life or death. I need the legislature to produce laws that honor the liberty of all Idahoans, and that are written in clear and unambiguous terms.”