It’s Hard to Get Abortion Reporting Right in the Post-Roe Era

On its heels but seemingly
unrelatedly, the week after Martinez filed his motion in the kidnapping case,
there was a development in the state-level challenge to the abortion travel ban,
the so-called “abortion trafficking” law: A judge blocked
all enforcement of it by a temporary
restraining order
while the state-level challenge regarding the
constitutionality of the ban proceeds. As U.S. Magistrate Judge Debora K.
Grasham wrote
in her decision, the state cannot craft a law “muzzling the speech and
expressive activities of a particular viewpoint with which the state disagrees
under the guise of parental rights.” Kelly O’Neill, an attorney at Legal Voice,
the group representing those who brought the challenge, told me that they are “confident
that this is the step in the right direction for finding this law
unconstitutional.”

So what’s actually going on in this
alleged kidnapping case? Valenti could be right that the prosecutor decided not
to charge the mother and son defendants under the abortion travel ban as a way to
hedge against the possible temporary restraining order on the ban’s enforcement—something
she called “a pretty slick move, allowing prosecutors to charge the two with
abortion trafficking without citing the statute specifically.” But she was
incorrect about something she claimed to support that argument: Prosecutors had,
in fact, not used “the exact language of the trafficking law” in the
criminal complaint, but the language of the kidnapping law.

So far in this case, we only have
the police’s side of the story, one in which they make claims about drug use,
consent, and abortion that are impossible to verify right now—certainly not at
the speed of newsletters. The plain reading of the available documents from
local law enforcement, as well as the prosecutor’s direct statement to a
reporter, is that “the Idaho Abortion Trafficking statute is not implicated in
this case.” That may not be the whole story. We may never have the whole
story.