An 18-year-old boy and his mother are facing various felony charges in Idaho, including kidnapping, after allegedly helping a 15-year-old girl obtain an abortion out-of-state without her parents’ permission.
Kadyn Swainston, 18, and Rachael Swainston, 42, of Pocatello, Idaho, were arrested in late October following a months-long investigation into a 15-year-old girl who was reported to have been raped and then taken across state lines to receive an abortion, according to records seen by the Idaho State Journal.
Mr Swainston was charged with second-degree kidnapping, rape and three counts of child sexually explicit materials.
His mother, Ms Swainston, was also charged with second-degree kidnapping as well as other felonies.
The case and charges come just months after Idaho enacted a law that prohibits adults from helping a minor obtain an abortion without parental consent – nicknamed “abortion trafficking.”
Though neither Mr Swainston nor his mother are charged under the state’s “abortion trafficking” law, which is currently being challenged, the kidnapping charges mirror language used in the law.
The details of the case are muddy and paint a picture of how Idaho’s anti-abortion laws have impacted everyday citizens.
In June, the 15-year-old girl’s mother contacted police to report that Mr Swainston had raped her daughter, who subsequently became pregnant.
However, when the girl was interviewed in August at a local child advocacy center, she told authorities the relationship between her and Mr Swainston was consensual and they engaged in sexual relations when he was 17 but it continued after he turned 18.
According to court documents seen by The Guardian, the teenage girl had been living at the Swainstons’ residence – though she was meant to be living with her father.
Mr Swainston made similar statements to police in a separate interview, according to The Idaho State Journal.
The girl reportedly told investigators that she discovered she was pregnant around Mr Swainston’s 18 birthday and was “happy”. She allegedly claimed that Mr Swainston insisted she get an abortion, or else he would not pay child support nor continue their relationship.
The teenage girl’s mother reported to authorities that, without her permission, Mr Swainston and his mother drove her daughter to Bend, Oregon, where she obtained an abortion.
The girl told police that Ms Swainston rented a car and travelled with her and Mr Swainston to an abortion clinic in May for the procedure.
When police secured search warrants for the girl’s cellphone they found phone records that matched the travel dates and locations as well as an explicit video and photos of the girl engaging in sexual activity with Mr Swainston.
While searching the home where Mr Swainston and his mother lived, they allegedly discovered Ms Swainston had over 40 grams of meth as well as fentanyl and psychedelic mushrooms and found a man, wanted for arrest, who was staying in Ms Swainston’s shed.
Ms Swainston was charged with two counts of possession of a controlled substance, one count of drug trafficking and one count of accessory to willfully withhold, conceal or harbour a felon.
The mother and son are set to appear at preliminary trial hearings on 7 November.
While the charges in this case are not directly related to Idaho’s “abortion trafficking” law, it has heightened attention on the legislation due to the nature of the allegations.
In May, Idaho became the first state in the nation to enact such a law aimed at preventing minors from seeking abortions or obtaining abortion medication out of state.
It was enacted nearly a year after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade which triggered anti-abortion laws in the state that immediately outlawed abortions in nearly all cases except in rape or incest – so long as there is a police report associated with the exceptions.
The law also gives sole discretion to the Idaho attorney general to bring charges against an adult should a county prosecutor decline to do so.
The so-called “abortion trafficking” law was challenged by advocacy groups Northwest Abortion Access Fund, Indigenous Idaho Alliance and individual plaintiff Lourdes Matsumoto who believe the law violates a person’s right to interstate travel and that it infringes on the First Amendment.
The challenge to Idaho’s law is still playing out in district court.