Attorney General James Takes Action to Stop Idaho’s Regressive Abortion Restrictions

Idaho is Attempting to Criminalize Those Seeking Out of State Abortion Care

NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James joined a multistate coalition of 19 attorneys general opposing an Idaho law that threatens to criminalize any action taken by an adult to help a minor from Idaho access abortion care in another state without parental consent. The coalition of attorneys general filed an amicus brief with the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit urging the court to uphold a lower court’s injunction blocking the enforcement of the law. Attorney General James and the coalition argue that Idaho’s actions target legal health care services in other states, including New York, and could deter health care providers, organizations, and individuals in other states from providing important health care resources to minors in need.

“Everyone should be able to freely access legal abortion care, no matter who they are or where they live,” said Attorney General James. “Idaho’s law would put minors in danger and jeopardize abortion access nationwide by targeting health care services in other states. I want to thank my fellow attorneys general for joining this effort to oppose this unjust and harmful policy.”

Idaho’s Attorney General has explicitly interpreted the law’s restrictions on abortion access to apply even when an abortion occurs in another state where abortion is legal. Violations of the law are punishable by two-to-five years in prison and can also be civilly enforced by the minor’s guardians. In November 2023, a judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho granted an injunction halting the enforcement of the law. The Attorney General of Idaho then appealed that decision to the Ninth Circuit.

The Idaho Attorney General’s interpretation of the law threatens to punish legal activity in these states and make it harder for health care providers to care for minors. Providers across the country have seen an increase in patients seeking abortions from states like Idaho that have enacted abortion bans following the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision. If allowed to take effect, Idaho’s law could create costly delays and more roadblocks for patients seeking abortion care, including vulnerable minors. As the coalition notes, one study found that a third of minors who choose not to inform their parents about their reproductive health care decisions “have already experienced family violence and fear it will recur.” Making it harder for those minors to access abortion care independently would put them even more at risk.

Joining Attorney General James in calling on the Ninth Circuit to uphold the decision halting enforcement of Idaho’s law are the attorneys general of Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. 

Attorney General James has been a leader in the fight to protect abortion access in New York and across the country. In December 2023, Attorney General James obtained a court order stopping a militant anti-abortion group from blocking access to reproductive health care clinics in 13 counties across New York state. In October 2023, Attorney General James led a multistate coalition urging the Supreme Court to protect access to medication abortion nationwide after leading the same coalition in filing a series of briefs at the district court and appellate levels. In September 2023, Attorney General James took action to protect abortion access at the Jefferson County Correctional Facility. In March 2023, Attorney General James, together with Governor Hochul, sent a letter to the CEOs of Walgreens (owner of Duane Reade), Rite Aid, and CVS to demand answers about the companies’ plans to make the abortion medication mifepristone available in New York. Attorney General James has also fought to preserve access to abortion care in medical emergencies, leading a series of briefs in support of the United States Department of Health and Human Services interpretation of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA).