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Could Idaho accuse a Washington abortion clinic of murder?

Nina Shapiro, The Seattle Times on

Published in News & Features

"These lawsuits may result in financial burdens that could force clinics to close," said Sanchez, who is also on the board of the Abortion Care Network of independent providers.

It is not unprecedented to have opposing criminal laws in different states. University of Idaho law professor Shaakirrah Sanders said Idaho outlaws marijuana and prostitution, yet borders states have legalized both (Washington and Oregon in the case of marijuana, Nevada in the case of prostitution).

Sanders said she hasn't heard of Idaho authorities investigating cross-state traffic for activities that are legal in other states. So she said it's unknown whether Idaho — where a state law would make abortion illegal if Roe is overturned — would monitor people traveling outside the state to end pregnancies.

But Ferguson, noting the fever-pitched emotions around abortion, said the procedure presents "a very different issue."

"I just fundamentally believe that elected officials and deep-red states will push this issue as far as they can," he said. "To think otherwise is being naive."

A Missouri legislator already has put forward a bill that would penalize various participants in out-of-state abortions. And Texas last year passed a bill that would authorize providers who mail abortion pills into the state to be extradited there to face prosecution.


"That's not going to happen," Ferguson said, when asked if Washington providers could be extradited.

State law says the governor may surrender someone accused of a crime in another state even if the accused was never in that state. Undoubtedly, Gov. Jay Inslee, an abortion rights supporter, would not extradite a Washington resident in abortion cases.

Still, Drexel's Cohen said uncertainty surrounds looming battles between states. On the central question of jurisdiction, for instance, he said "the law is unsettled."

Some states, he said, have legislation they may argue gives them jurisdiction over crimes that happen elsewhere but have effects in their states.


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