Attorney General Phil Weiser argues Idaho’s abortion travel ban is illegal, joins other states to block law
Aug. 1, 2023 (DENVER)—Attorney General Phil Weiser today joined a coalition of 20 attorneys general to file a brief in a lawsuit challenging Idaho’s restrictive law making it a crime for adults to help minors travel out-of-state for abortion care.
The challenge to Idaho’s abortion travel ban was filed in U.S. District Court in Idaho earlier this month by an attorney working with sexual assault victims, the Northwest Abortion Access Fund, and the Indigenous Idaho Alliance. In an amicus brief, the coalition of attorneys general argues that Idaho’s law not only endangers minors from Idaho, but it also punishes other states’ medical providers and residents for helping them access lawful abortion care outside of Idaho’s borders.
Weiser said Idaho should not be allowed to criminalize legal conduct in other states and urged the court to block Idaho’s law immediately.
“Idaho’s law is vague and unclear, and it infringes on constitutional rights to travel and speech. I am committed to protecting patients’ right to travel to Colorado and doctors’ ability to practice medicine. This law is unconstitutional because states cannot prevent their residents from accessing safe abortion care in other states where it is legal nor can they prevent doctors from sharing truthful information with their patients about such lawful care,” Weiser said.
Colorado enacted the Reproductive Health Equity Act in 2022 making abortion care a fundamental right. In 2023, the legislature enacted another law providing protections for people engaging in legal reproductive healthcare in Colorado against criminal, civil, or professional sanctions from other states. For minors, parental notification is not required in Colorado in, among other circumstances, where the minor declares that she is a victim of child abuse or neglect or when there is a medical emergency.
Idaho’s abortion laws, among the most restrictive in the country, have resulted in significant increases in Idaho patients traveling to other states for care. For example, Washington state clinics reported an unprecedented 75% increase in Idaho patients between January 2022 and early 2023. Idaho’s law also harms the ability of healthcare providers in other states to provide timely medical care.
This is not the first time Weiser has weighed in on Idaho’s restrictive abortion laws. Last month, Colorado joined a coalition of 15 attorneys general in filing a friend of the court brief supporting Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawai‘i, Alaska, Indiana and Kentucky, challenging a law that had been interpreted to prohibit providers from making out-of-state referrals for abortion care. A federal judge yesterday issued an order temporarily blocking the state’s attorney general from prosecuting providers for abortion referrals under this law.
In August 2022, Colorado joined a coalition of 21 attorneys general on a friend of the court brief supporting the U.S. Department of Justice’s lawsuit challenging another restrictive law in Idaho that leaves doctors facing criminal penalties for providing abortion-related medical care to women in emergency, life-threatening medical situations.