NRL News

Judge Expected to rule in January on PPFA’s challenge to Montana Parental Involvement Laws

by | Dec 16, 2013


By Dave Andrusko

District Judge Jeffrey Sherlock

District Judge Jeffrey Sherlock

A decision is expected next month in a suit brought by Planned Parenthood challenging Montana’s parental consent and parental notification laws.

LR-120 passed on the 2012 ballot. The measure requires minors under the age of 16 to notify their parents before getting an abortion.

HB 391 passed in the last session of the Montana Legislature and requires girls under the age of 18 to obtain their parent’s permission before an abortion.

The consent law, when implemented, repealed the notification statute, the Associated Press reported. “If the court tosses the consent law, the notification statute would go back into place,” explained Kathryn Haake. However “The lawsuit aims to strike both.”

Planned Parenthood told District Judge Jeffrey Sherlock that a Montana Supreme Court decision that found there is a state constitutional right to privacy which includes a broad ‘right to abortion’ applies to minors as well as to adults.

In its 1999 decision, the Montana Supreme Court struck down the 1995 parental consent law that did not provide for a judicial bypass for minors who could not obtain consent from their parents.

When Planned Parenthood filed its suit in May, the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jerry Bennett, said he was confident the measure would hold up in court, “in part because of a judicial bypass component that allows minors to seek permission from a judge, forgoing parental consent [that was missing in the 1995 law], to get an abortion,” Haake reported.

NRLC State Legislative Director Mary Spaulding Balch, JD, told NRL News Today that Gov. Steve Bullock allowed the parental consent bill to become law by neither signing it nor vetoing it. “Gov. Bullock took this action to set up this lawsuit and to prevent an identical referendum from going on the ballot,” she said. “Clearly Planned Parenthood and Bullock believed they would have better success in the courts than with the voters of Montana.”


Categories: Judicial