An Idaho woman and her son are facing felony charges of kidnapping, rape and child pornography after they allegedly took a 15-year-old girl, who was the son’s girlfriend, to Oregon for an abortion without her parents’ consent.
The girl, who was not identified, told the police that she was happy to be pregnant, but the son, 18-year-old Skylar Fowler, threatened to end their relationship and not pay child support if she gave birth. The mother, 46-year-old Katrina Fowler, also pressured the girl to have an abortion and not tell her parents, according to court documents.
The Fowlers drove the girl from Idaho to Oregon on October 17, where they obtained an abortion at a Planned Parenthood clinic. Oregon does not require parental consent for abortions, while Idaho bans almost all abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. Idaho also has a law that prohibits helping minors get abortions without parental consent, but that law is being challenged in court by Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union.
“This is a case about a young woman who was kidnapped by her boyfriend and his mother because they wanted to terminate her desired pregnancy,” said Jessica Kuehn, the deputy prosecutor in Ada County, Idaho, where the Fowlers live.
The Fowlers’ defense attorney, Scott McKay, said that the case was not about abortion, but about kidnapping. He argued that the girl went willingly with the Fowlers and that there was no evidence of coercion or force.
“This is not a case about abortion. This is a case about kidnapping,” McKay said.
The case has drawn attention from abortion rights advocates and opponents, who see it as a test of Idaho’s abortion trafficking law, which was passed in 2018 and carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. The law makes it a crime to help a minor cross state lines for an abortion without parental consent.
“This is a test case for Idaho’s abortion trafficking law,” said Hannah Brass Greer, chief legal officer at Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. She said that the law was unconstitutional and violated the rights of minors to access safe and legal abortion care.
Elisabeth Smith, chief counsel for state policy and advocacy at the Center for Reproductive Rights, said that the fact that the girl was taken across state lines for an abortion should not be used as a political football. She said that the case highlighted the need for more access to abortion services in Idaho and other states with restrictive laws.
“The fact that this young woman was taken across state lines for an abortion should not be used as a political football,” Smith said. “This is a tragic situation for everyone involved, especially for the young woman who was victimized by her boyfriend and his mother.”
Mistie Tolman, Idaho director of public affairs at Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii, said that the organization was cooperating with the authorities and providing support to the girl. She said that the organization did not know about the alleged kidnapping or the age difference between the girl and Skylar Fowler, who also recorded sexually explicit videos and photos of her, some of which were taken after he turned 18.
“We are deeply saddened by this situation and our hearts go out to the young woman,” Tolman said. “We are committed to providing high-quality health care to our patients and protecting their privacy and safety.”
The Fowlers are being held in jail on $500,000 bond each. They are facing various felony charges, including second-degree kidnapping, rape of a child under 16, sexual exploitation of a child and destruction of evidence. They have pleaded not guilty and are scheduled for a preliminary hearing on November 15.
– Idaho mother and son charged with kidnapping over out-of-state abortion, The Guardian, November 1, 2023
– Kidnapping Charges for Idaho Teen and Mother Seen as Test Case for ‘Abortion Trafficking’ Law, Common Dreams, October 31, 2023
– Idaho woman, son charged with kidnapping after police say they took teenager to Oregon for abortion, CBS News, November 1, 2023
– An Idaho teenager and his mother are facing charges over a 15-year-old’s abortion, AOL, November 1, 2023