Legal Voice Files First-in-the-Nation Lawsuit Against the State of Idaho
This groundbreaking lawsuit against the State of Idaho alleges that the recently passed the ‘Abortion Travel Ban’, §18-623, offends both the First Amendment and the right to travel within and between states.
Stoel Rives is a leading corporate and litigation law firm with 350 attorneys in seven states and the
District of Columbia.
The Lawyering Project
The Lawyering Project uses the law to improve abortion access and uphold the rights and dignity of people seeking and providing reproductive healthcare.
Northwest Abortion Access Fund, NWAAF
The Northwest Abortion Access Fund is the only independent abortion fund serving Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Alaska.
Indigenous Idaho Alliance, IIA
Their work asserts the sovereignty of all Indigenous people, and focuses on education, community care, awareness, and collaboration.
Lourdes Matsumoto is a third generation Idahoan whose family has been in Idaho over 100 years. She has spent a majority of her legal career advocating for civil rights. She believes the importance of uplifting all people and cultures in order to build stronger communities and end the cycle of violence.
What is Idaho Code § 18-623
- 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 or guardians.
- 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.
What led up to this lawsuit?
- The Supreme Court’s ruling on the Dobbs decision, which overturned Roe v. Wade, has prompted states to implement their own abortion policies.
- Idaho is now a state that controls pregnant people’s bodies, a state that endorses the closure of healthcare clinics, a state that supports crisis pregnancy centers, and a state that prevents its community from accessing basic public health.
Why the law is bad.
Legal Voice alleges that the law offends the First Amendment, undermines the right to travel, and is unconstitutionally vague.
- Right to Travel: This law offends the right to travel (within and between states). Idahoans, like all people, should be free to travel within and between states without the specter of prison. This includes travel for reasons that others might not agree with. We all have the right to travel.
- First Amendment: The law tries to stop people from discussing abortion with minors. The Government should not impede our First Amendment rights.
- Unconstitutionally vague: The law is poorly written and is creating confusion. Idahoans deserve laws that clearly tell them what they can and cannot do. The law was written so vaguely that it will stop people from doing things they are constitutionally permitted to do, such as discussing abortion or driving to the border.
Why this lawsuit is so important.
“Idaho’s law is the first time a state has tried to criminalize the right to travel for health care. 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?”
– Wendy Heipt, Legal Voice
“It is a fundamental guarantee of the Fourteenth Amendment due process clause that criminal statutes must provide fair notice of what conduct is prohibited and must not be so standardless that they invite arbitrary enforcement. Idaho’s Abortion Travel Ban falls far short of these constitutional requirements.”
– Wendy Olsen, Stoel Rives
“Young people who are forced to cross state lines for abortion care need our respect and support, not the criminalization of the very people who are trying to help them access health care. The Lawyering Project is proud to join our partners in challenging this unconstitutional and cruel measure.”
– Jamila Johnson, The Lawyering Project
“Abortion care is a fundamental part of reproductive health care. The legislature and our governor continue to put up barriers that prevent pregnant people in Idaho from accessing the care they need. 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.”
– Lourdes Matsumoto, individual plaintiff
“Our work at the Indigenous Idaho Alliance is to interrupt systems and policies that inhibit the sovereign rights of Indigenous people in Idaho and across the region. This means taking a stand for the right to access medical care when, for so many centuries of settler-colonization, we have been denied the ability to move across our usual and accustomed territory for any reason. Interrupting the access to healthcare for our Indigenous women is especially egregious because of our cultural and social practices as a matriarchy. Women are to be revered and honored, not infringed upon, or dehumanized.”
– Tai Simpson, Indigenous Idaho Alliance
“Young people need abortions whether Idaho lawmakers like it or not. At the Northwest Abortion Access Fund, we see firsthand that young people are disproportionately impacted by abortion restrictions; especially those from historically marginalized communities. This unconstitutional law impedes access to necessary and lifesaving healthcare for Black, Indigenous, young people of color, and those living in poverty the most. We know that many minors do not have supportive or safe parents or guardians in their lives who they can ask to help them get an abortion. Every young person deserves access to compassionate and confidential abortion care so that they can make a decision that is the best one for their lives. This lawsuit is critically necessary to support young Idahoans’ bodily autonomy.”
– Megan Kovacs, Northwest Abortion Access Fund
In the News
Legal Voice Press Release: July 11, 2023
Syndication of AP News story
US News & World Report
KFF Health News
Syndication of KFF story
Syndication of Idaho Statesmen story
Syndication of Idaho Capital Sun story: https://blog.idahoreports.idahoptv.org/2023/07/11/advocacy-groups-file-lawsuit-against-idahos-abortion-trafficking-law/
Democratic Underground: Advocacy groups file lawsuit against Idaho’s ‘abortion trafficking’ law – Democratic Underground
Oregon Capital Chronicle: Advocacy groups file lawsuit against Idaho’s ‘abortion trafficking’ law – Oregon Capital Chronicle
Boise State Public Radio: Advocacy groups file lawsuit against Idaho’s ‘abortion trafficking’ law | Boise State Public Radio