A Tennessee House panel advances a bill that would criminalize helping minors get abortions

Tennessee would be the latest state to make it illegal for an adult to help a minor get an abortion without parental consent under legislation that advanced Tuesday inside the GOP-controlled Statehouse.

The proposal stems from the growing push among anti-abortion advocates to get states to implement abortion bans and convince them to find ways for lawmakers to block pregnant people from crossing state lines to obtain the procedure since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022.

So far, Idaho has been the only state to enact a so-called “abortion trafficking” law. The first-of-its-kind measure made it illegal to obtain abortion pills for a minor or help them leave the state for an abortion without parental knowledge and consent.

A federal judge blocked the law after reproductive rights groups sued to challenge it.

Yet even as legal questions linger in the Idaho case, other states like Tennessee are moving forward with implementing their own versions. Lawmakers in Missouri and Oklahoma have also introduced similar proposals.

“This bill is simply a parental rights bill,” said Republican Rep. Jason Zachary, who is sponsoring the proposal.

If enacted, the Tennessee measure would make it illegal for an adult who “recruits, harbors, or transports” a pregnant minor within the state to get an abortion without consent from the minor’s parents or guardians. According to supporters, this could involve not only driving a minor, but also could include providing information about nearby abortion providers or passing along which states have looser abortion laws.

Similar to the Idaho version, the Tennesee bill attempts to sidestep violating a constitutional right to travel between states by only criminalizing the portion of the trip to an out-of-state abortion provider that takes place in Tennessee.

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