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Idaho's first 'abortion trafficking' arrest
Police used geo-location data to place teen at Oregon clinic
Last week, an Idaho teenager and his mother were arrested for bringing the teen’s girlfriend out-of-state for an abortion. The pair were charged with multiple felonies, including second degree kidnapping, for taking a minor under 16 years-old “with the intent to keep or conceal [her] from her custodial parent...by transporting the child out of the state for the purpose of obtaining an abortion.”
The 15 year-old, identified in court records as K.B., was living in Pocatello with her 18 year-old boyfriend Kaydn* and his mother, Rachael, when she became pregnant. In May, they brought her to Oregon, where K.B. received abortion medication. Idaho’s ‘abortion trafficking’ law went into effect that same month.
The investigation into the mother and son began shortly after K.B.’s mother reported to police that her daughter had been sexually assaulted. Though K.B. became sexually active when Kaydn was 17 years-old, he turned 18 during the course of their relationship; so in addition to the kidnapping charge, court documents show that he’s also been charged with rape and sexual exploitation of a child.
During this conversation with law enforcement, K.B.’s mother also reported that her daughter had been taken to Oregon for an abortion without parental permission. This sparked a far-reaching investigation that included accessing geolocation data to place the teenager at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Bend, and tracking her movement with Kaydn and Rachael from Idaho to Oregon. (A search warrant, for example, shows that law enforcement accessed the phones of all three, and found that they were pinging cell towers in the area of the clinic.)
What’s also noteworthy is that while Kaydn and Rachael were charged with second degree kidnapping based on the fact that they brought K.B. out-of-state for an abortion, prosecutors declined to use the ‘abortion trafficking’ statute specifically. This may have something to do with the fact that the law is being challenged, and abortion rights advocates are asking for a temporary injunction against it while the case makes its way through the courts.
A ruling is expected in the next few weeks: if the judge blocks the law, prosecutors wouldn’t be able to enforce it in this, or any other, case. And so instead of citing the trafficking statute, prosecutors used the exact language of the trafficking law in the kidnapping charge.
I mean that literally: Idaho defines ‘abortion trafficking’ as an adult who “with the intent to conceal an abortion from the parents or guardian of a pregnant, unemancipated minor…procures an abortion.” The kidnapping charges against both Kaydn and Rachael accuse them of taking a child “with intent to keep or conceal K.B. from her custodial parent…by transporting the child out of the state for the purpose of obtaining an abortion.” It’s actually a pretty slick move, allowing prosecutors to charge the two with abortion trafficking without citing the statute specifically in case it gets blocked.
All that said, it’s evident from multiple court documents that this is a complicated story and a really sad situation. In one of the affidavits, for example, Bannock County prosecutor Erin Tognetti reports that Rachael was providing K.B. with methamphetamine and smoking it with her regularly. (In addition to kidnapping, Rachael has been charged with a litany of drug-related offenses.)
It’s also clear that K.B was treated poorly by her boyfriend and his mother. K.B. told law enforcement that her relationship with the pair deteriorated after she ended the pregnancy. Prosecutor Tognetti writes in the affidavit that they would “pick at everything she did and make her feel like everything she did was wrong.”
And while texts show the teen saying that she’s glad she ended the pregnancy, Tognetti writes that K.B. reported that Kaydn and Rachael pressured her into the abortion and dissuaded her from telling her mother—threatening to kick her out if she did.**
It’s unclear where the teen’s parents were during all of this; K.B. was supposed to be living with her father, but had moved in with her boyfriend six months prior.
It’s not surprising that the people at the center of this case seem to be having a really difficult time—we know that the most marginalized among us are much more likely to be charged or targeted by law enforcement in abortion-related cases (and all others). We also know that prosecutors seeking to test out laws like this are likely to go after people who won’t garner much sympathy from the public.
The hope is that people will be a little less outraged over an objectively outrageous law.
Abortion, Every Day will continue to bring you more information on this story as we get it. In the meantime, I’m sure like all of you—I’m just hoping that K.B. is safe.
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