Attorney General Bonta Joins Multistate Coalition Against Idaho Anti-Abortion Law

Tuesday, August 1, 2023
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OAKLAND — California Attorney General Rob Bonta today joined a coalition of 20 states in support of a legal challenge to Idaho’s latest attack on reproductive rights, which would punish medical providers and residents of states outside Idaho for giving information and assistance to minors who access lawful abortion in those states. The plaintiffs in Matsumoto v. Labrador are suing in the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho to block a newly enacted law. In today’s amicus brief, the coalition of attorneys general wrote in support of plaintiffs, arguing that the law not only puts pregnant Idahoans at risk, but also threatens the freedom of people beyond Idaho’s borders, who are acting lawfully and abiding by the reproductive rules of their own state.

"California is proud to fight for the reproductive rights of all people who seek, provide, and assist with access to abortion care here  — whether they’re from the Golden State or not," said Attorney General Bonta. "Idaho’s law not only threatens to criminalize Californians for exercising their rights, it also endangers the health and lives of its own minors by restricting their access to vital, lifesaving health care. I stand with my fellow reproductive freedom states in opposing this dangerous law. My office will continue to ensure California remains a safe haven for reproductive freedom, fundamental rights, and safety."

Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in 2022, anti-abortion states across the United States have passed an array of laws that criminalize abortion and threaten the safety and legal freedom of those seeking or providing reproductive care. These laws have sown terror and confusion among patients, providers, and others who may fear legal and criminal repercussions for seeking, performing, or assisting with reproductive services.

The coalition of states believes that Idaho Code § 18-623 is one such law. The law, enacted in May 2023, makes it a felony for any adult to help a pregnant minor access abortion care or obtain medication for an abortion if that help is deemed to have been provided with an intent to conceal the abortion from a parent or guardian. Idaho has interpreted the vague and unspecific language in the law to open up the possibility that any adult in any state providing any kind of abortion help to a minor in Idaho — even in the form of information, links, or resources —  might be in violation of the law.

In their amicus brief today, the attorneys general asserted that the legislation will create a climate of fear and uncertainty among healthcare providers, reproductive health organizations, and other adults in their own states, and inhibit them from providing appropriate care, information, and counseling to their patients, clients, relatives, and friends in Idaho. This not only impinges on the reproductive liberties and rights constitutionally guaranteed under coalition states’ own laws and constitutions, but also endangers the health, safety, and lives of pregnant minors in Idaho by creating barriers or causing delays in their ability to access critical healthcare. While abortion is safe at virtually any stage — and, without question, far safer than carrying a pregnancy to term — delays in receiving abortion care make treatment more intensive, increasing risks to the patient and costs. In addition, many pregnancy and miscarriage complications require time-sensitive treatment, including abortion care, to stabilize emergency conditions. In such circumstances, any failure or delay in providing necessary abortion care puts the patient’s life or health at risk. 

The coalition thus urged the Idaho district court to block enforcement of Idaho Code § 18-623.

Today’s amicus brief was led by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who was joined by Attorney General Bonta as well as the attorneys general of Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island and the District of Columbia.

A copy of the brief can be found here.

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