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Montana Asks Court to Dismiss Lawsuit on New Abortion Laws
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In a court filing last month, Montana’s Republican Attorney General sought to block four new laws restricting access to abortions in the state.

According to the Montana attorney general, Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit last month seeking to block four new laws restricting abortion in the state.

The laws will take effect on Oct. 1. Abortions after 20 weeks of gestation would be prohibited; abortion pills would not be available; abortion providers would be required to ask patients if they want to view ultrasounds, and federal exchange plans that cover abortion would not be available.


Attorney General Austin Knudsen is named as a defendant in the lawsuit filed in Yellowstone District Court. An Alliance Defending Freedom group representing conservative Christians represents the state in the case.

In its request to the court, the state said the law would “help minimize the medical risks” associated with pregnancy, and the state hopes the court will reject that request. Despite this, abortion advocates and medical experts largely disagree that the new laws would make the procedure safer.

Montana’s constitution protects access to abortion before the fetus is viable, generally at 24 weeks gestation, according to the suit. It argues that the laws will result in a reduction in the number of abortion clinics, as well as criminal and civil penalties for abortion providers.

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According to the court filing of the state, abortions that use pills are called “dangerous chemical abortions,” despite the fact that medical professionals consider them safe up to 11 weeks of pregnancy and that 75% of abortions conducted at Planned Parenthood of Montana are performed with pills.

Denise Harle, ADF Senior Counsel, said in a statement that Planned Parenthood has no basis for asking the court to stop what the legislature had every right to pass.

The bills were passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature earlier this year and signed by Gov. Greg Gianforte, Montana’s first Republican governor since 2003. Attempts to limit abortion access were blocked by his Democratic predecessors.

Montana has joined several other GOP-led states in restricting access to abortion this year, including Texas, which passed a law last week banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, which occurs before many women realize they are pregnant.

Martha Stahl, president of Planned Parenthood of Montana, has said the various laws passed earlier this year in Montana share the goal of “outlawing … abortion entirely.”

Montana’s lawsuit comes after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in May that it would decide whether states can ban abortion before a fetus can survive outside the womb, a decision that could dramatically alter nearly 50 years of precedent on the procedure.

Case, which involves a Mississippi law banning abortion 15 weeks into pregnancy, likely will be argued in the fall, with a decision likely in the spring of 2022.

Though the Montana Supreme Court’s decision has the potential to affect a wide range of lives, the Montana Constitution grants a more robust right to privacy than federal law, according to Stahl, so the ruling will not necessarily impact abortion access in Montana.



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