Judge blocks enforcement of Idaho 'abortion trafficking' law

By Brendan Pierson

(Reuters) - A U.S. judge has blocked Idaho from enforcing a recently passed law making it a crime to help a minor cross state lines for an abortion without her parents' consent.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Debora Grasham in Boise, Idaho, said the law against so-called abortion trafficking, signed by Republican Governor Brad Little in April, violated the rights to free speech and expression under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The judge also said the law "fails to provide fair notice or ascertainable standard of what is and what is not abortion trafficking."

Her order is a preliminary injunction, meaning it will remain in place while she considers a legal challenge by a lawyer and advocate and two organizations suing to challenge the law.

A spokesperson for Idaho Attorney General Raul Labrador, and a lawyer for the plaintiffs, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Idaho already bans almost all abortions, but the state borders Washington, Oregon and Montana, which allow them. Like other conservative jurisdictions, Idaho has sought to limit residents from traveling elsewhere for abortions.

Under its law, adults who help girls obtain surgical or medication abortions without parental consent would face a minimum of two years in prison if convicted.

Lourdes Matsumoto, a lawyer and advocate who works with victims of sexual violence, and the Northwest Abortion Access Fund and Indigenous Idaho Alliance, which help people in Idaho access abortion, sued to block the law.

They said it would prevent them from sharing information about where abortion is legal, violating the First Amendment, and that it interfered with their constitutional right to interstate travel.

(Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Daniel Wallis)