Idaho will urge a federal appeals court Tuesday to revive a 2023 law making it a crime to help a minor cross state lines for an abortion without her parent’s consent, which a judge blocked in November.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Seattle will hear the case challenging the law brought by Lourdes Matsumoto, a lawyer and advocate who works with victims of sexual violence, and the Northwest Abortion Access Fund and Indigenous Idaho Alliance which helps people in Idaho access abortion.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Debora Grasham in Boise in a preliminary order found that the law signed by Republican Governor Brad Little just over a year ago violated the plaintiffs’ rights to free speech and expression under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The judge also found the law is unclear about what counts as illegal abortion trafficking.

Idaho has argued that the plaintiffs do not have legal standing to challenge the law because they have no concrete plans to violate it, and that the state “has every right to protect the rights of parents to be present at a critical moment for their children.”

Idaho bans almost all abortions, with narrow exceptions to save the mother’s life and for rape or incest that is reported to police. However, it borders Washington, Oregon and Montana, which allow them.

Like other conservative jurisdictions, Idaho has sought to limit its residents from traveling elsewhere for abortions.

Under the law, adults who help girls obtain surgical or medication abortions without parental consent would face a minimum of two years in prison if convicted.

The plaintiffs have said that in addition to violating their First Amendment rights, the law interferes with Idaho citizens’ constitutional right to interstate travel.

The case is one of several challenging laws that criminalize helping residents travel to states where abortion is legal. The U.S. Supreme Court in 2022 overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that had established a nationwide right to abortion.

A group of Alabama healthcare providers and a fund that helps people in the state filed lawsuits last year seeking to block anyone from being prosecuted under state law for helping someone travel out of state for an abortion. The state’s Republican attorney general had suggested that Alabamans who did so could be prosecuted as criminal accomplices.

The U.S. Department of Justice in November filed a statement in support of those lawsuits, saying the Constitution protects the right to travel for abortion.

© 2024 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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