Idaho AG walks back opinion on prohibiting referrals for out-of-state abortions

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Idaho Attorney General Raúl Labrador (R) rescinded a legal opinion that prohibited referrals for out-of-state abortions, CNN reported Friday. 

Labrador reportedly said in a letter to state Rep. Brent Crane (R) that the opinion was “mischaracterized as law enforcement guidance sent out publicly to local prosecutors and others.” 

“It was not a guidance document, nor was it ever published by the Office of the Attorney General,” he said. “Accordingly, I hereby withdraw it.” 

Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union had announced legal challenges against Labrador on Wednesday over the interpretation of the state’s abortion ban to prevent medical providers from referring patients to out-of-state abortion services. 

Labrador’s initial letter stated that Idaho’s near-total abortion ban “prohibits an Idaho medical provider from either referring a woman across state lines to access abortion services or prescribing abortion pills for the woman to pick up across state lines.” 

Idaho’s abortion ban prohibits the procedure except for cases involving rape, incest or the life of the mother is at risk. 

CNN reported that U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill said the opinion’s removal indicates that the urgency behind a lawsuit from Planned Parenthood might have been “somewhat or completely abated.” 

An attorney for Labrador argued that the new letter essentially means as if the first letter “were never written,” but attorneys for Planned Parenthood said they were not immediately prepared to withdraw their motion for a temporary restraining order on Labrador’s original opinion. 

They argued it violates parts of the Constitution, including freedom of speech from the First Amendment. 

Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) signed a bill into law on Wednesday to criminalize adults helping a minor obtain an abortion or abortion pills out of state without parental consent.

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