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Idaho bans youth gender-affirming care, certain out-of-state abortions

Gov. Brad Little has signed a pair of bills, including one of the first attempts to curtail traveling out of state for an abortion.
Idaho bans youth gender-affirming care, certain out-of-state abortions
Posted at 10:15 AM, Apr 06, 2023

Idaho Gov. Brad Little announced that he had signed House Bill 71 into law. The law criminalizes doctors who provide gender-affirming care to minors, regardless of parents' decisions.

He then signed House Bill 242, commonly called the "abortion trafficking" bill. The law makes it a crime to "recruit, harbor, or transport" a minor to go across state lines to get an abortion. This also includes helping a minor obtain abortion-inducing drugs.

What is Idaho House Bill 71?

The bill outlaws puberty blockers, hormone therapy and transition-related surgeries for minors, with the penalty being felony charges with up to 10 years in jail. It is important to note that, according to the Idaho chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, no Idaho doctors had been performing these surgeries in the state, but forms of reversible care like puberty blockers and hormone therapy had been used.

"In signing this bill, I recognize our society plays a role in protecting minors from surgeries or treatments that can irreversibly damage their healthy bodies," Little said in a letter after signing the bill. "However, as policy makers we should take great caution whenever we consider allowing the government to interfere with loving parents and their decisions about what is best for their children."

Boise's Mayor, Lauren McLean, responded via Twitter Wednesday morning, expressing opposition to the governor's decision.

"My heart breaks today for every loving parent of a trans child, every doctor who strives to offer life-saving affirming care, and every child in our community targeted by H71," McLean said in one tweet. "H71 is the heavy hand of the government coming between parents who deeply care and doctors trained to help, and it puts our most vulnerable kids at even greater risk."

SEE MORE: GOP lawmakers in Kentucky override transgender bill veto

In February, activist Chloe Cole spoke in Idaho to express her support for this bill. She identified as transgender as a teenager and had gender-affirming surgery while she lived in California. She now wishes she didn't and campaigns for restrictions to gender-affirming care for minors around the country.

“No kid is equipped to make a decision like this and it’s something that should definitely be waited on," Cole said. “A part of what went wrong with me was that I wasn’t fully developed when I went through the process.”

One Idaho mother was angered by the news of the governor's decision. Shauna Jones' son is transgender and received gender-affirming care as a minor. She says it prevented him from taking his own life.

“There was a time in high school when we didn’t know if he’d survive," Jones said. “And getting him gender-affirming care absolutely saved his life."

She fears what could happen to some transgender youth because of this bill.

Dr. Jessie Duvall is the legislative liaison for the Idaho chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. She said the organization collected over 650 signatures from Idaho physicians and medical students who were concerned with the legislation and wanted Little to veto the Bill. Idaho has one of the lowest numbers of pediatricians per 100,000 kids, with only about 40.

What is Idaho House Bill 242?

The bill has gained national attention as it's the first of its kind looking to prosecute an aspect of traveling to different states for an abortion. Idaho Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates called the bill "extreme."

"This bill sets a dangerous precedent of medical surveillance that should worry you, regardless of your position on abortion," Said Mistie DelliCarpini-Tolman, Idaho state director of Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates.

Supporters of the bill say it is about protecting pregnant children from being taken across state lines and forced to get an abortion, saying that it hinges on the "intent to conceal" the abortion.

“The bill only prohibits taking a girl across state lines with the intent to conceal that abortion from the parents," said Blaine Conzatti, the president of the Idaho Family Policy Center. The conservative group lobbied for the bill. "So we’re not talking about a girl going across state lines to get an abortion that her parents have consented to.”

SEE MORE: Abortion rights activists call on President Biden for more action

The Idaho Anti-Trafficking Coalition doesn't support the bill. The organization says lawmakers are using the trafficking crisis in the country as a way to win political battles.

“(We have) a lot of concerns around using the human trafficking platform as a way to move other agenda items forward," said Jennifer Zielinski, the executive director of the organization. “There is no data to support that this bill is going to address the human trafficking issues in Idaho."