Next abortion battles may cross state borders
April 10, 2023 -Abortion is banned in Idaho at all stages of pregnancy, but the governor on Wednesday signed another law making it illegal to provide help within the state’s boundaries to minors seeking an abortion without parental consent.
The new law is obviously aimed at abortions obtained in other states, but it’s written to criminalize in-state behavior leading to the out-of-state procedure – a clear nod to the uncertainty surrounding efforts by lawmakers in at least half a dozen states to extend their influence outside their borders when it comes to abortion law.
At the same time, Democrat-controlled states are advancing and adopting laws and executive orders intended to shield their residents against civil lawsuits and criminal investigations related to providing abortions for women from states where there are bans.
But there is no legal precedent giving good guidance about whether states can influence their residents getting abortions outside their borders.
Arguments about the laws could be rooted in key clauses of the U.S. Constitution that could contradict each other in this case. One clause requires states to respect the laws of other states while another recognizes the right to travel among states and a third restricts the ability of states to impair interstate commerce.
Legal experts say that no prior cases are exactly comparable, though state laws have conflicted in weighty ways in the past.