Oregon joins 20 states urging court to block Idaho’s abortion “travel ban”
Today, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum joined a coalition of 20 attorneys general in an amicus brief (“friend of the court” brief) supporting a challenge to Idaho’s repressive law making it a crime for adults to help certain minors travel out of state for legal 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 who counsels minors on abortion options, the Northwest Abortion Access Fund and the Indigenous Idaho Alliance.
The amicus brief urges the court to block Idaho’s law immediately. In the brief, the attorneys general argue that Idaho’s law not only endangers minors from Idaho, it also punishes other states’ medical providers and residents for helping them access lawful abortion care outside of Idaho’s borders. The 20 attorneys general further explain that the Idaho law cannot be reconciled with Supreme Court precedent, under which States cannot prevent their residents from accessing abortion care in other states where it is legal — much less from even accessing information about such lawful care.
“Idaho’s ‘travel ban’ law is cruel and inhumane—it punishes the “helpers” who try to support the most vulnerable people seeking safe, confidential, and competent healthcare services,’ said AG Rosenblum, who has long been a strong voice for abortion care and reproductive rights. “Oregon will remain a safe place for those seeking abortion care, and roadblocks to reaching lawful and compassionate care will not be tolerated.”
Idaho’s abortion laws, among the most restrictive in the country, have resulted in significant increases in Idaho patients coming to other states for care. For example, Washington state clinics reported an unprecedented 75% increase in Idaho patients between January 2022 and early 2023. In Oregon, in the first six months after the Dobbs decision, the number of abortions performed in Oregon for out-of-state residents rose 48% over the same six-month period a year earlier, according to Oregon Health Authority statistics.
Idaho’s law also harms the ability of border states like Oregon and Washington to provide timely medical care, with medical providers routinely seeing patients with substantially delayed access to reproductive medical care. In a letter to Idaho’s governor in April, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee warned that Idaho’s law would likely result in an “increased mortality rate of Idahoan women and girls.”
Oregon joins Washington (which led the drafting of the brief),Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawai‘i, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island and Washington, D.C.
This brief follows action last month by Oregon’s Department of Justice, which joined a coalition of 15 attorneys general to file 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. In August 2022, Oregon joined a coalition of 21 attorneys general led by California and New York to file a friend of the court brief supporting the U.S. Department of Justice’s lawsuit challenging another of Idaho’s restrictive laws.