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Montana AG to appeal decision allowing advanced practice nurses to perform “early-term” abortions

by | Feb 28, 2022

By Dave Andrusko

Montana’s attorney general plans to appeal to the Montana Supreme Court the ruling of a District Court judge that allows advance practice nurses — nurse practitioners and nurse midwives–to perform “early-term” abortions.

“Once again abortionists sued to lower the standard of care for Montana women in order to further their financial interests in performing as many abortions as possible,” Emilee Cantrell, the attorney general’s office spokesperson, said in a statement issued after the decision was handed down Friday. 

“Lewis and Clark County District Court Judge Mike Menahan ruled in favor of Helen Weems, a nurse practitioner in Whitefish, and a second plaintiff listed as Jane Doe, a nurse midwife,” Tom Kuglin reported. “In 2018 ACLU Montana and the Center for Reproductive Rights filed suit, challenging the constitutionality of a Montana law that restricted abortion providers to physicians and physician assistants.”

Prior to 1995, physicians and one physician assistant performed abortions in Montana. That following year the Legislature passed a law that allowed only physicians to perform abortions.

That law was struck down by the Montana Supreme Court in 1999 in Armstrong v. State. Six years later the Legislature changed the law to restrict those who could perform abortions to licensed physicians and physician assistants. 

A lawsuit was then filed by Weems and “Jane Doe” resulted in “a District Court judge blocking the law from taking effect,” Kuglin wrote.  This “allow[ed] Weems and Doe to perform abortion care pending the outcome of the litigation.” 

In defending three pro-life laws enacted in the most recent legislative session that were blocked by Judge Michael Moses, Attorney General Austin Knutsen “also asked the state Supreme Court to overturn a 1999 opinion that found the state constitution’s right to privacy guarantees a woman’s access to an abortion — the opinion Planned Parenthood is using to challenge three new abortion laws,” the Associated Press’ Amy Beth Hanson reported.

Those bills include House Bill 140, a ban on abortions performed on pain-capable unborn children, conservatively estimated at 20 weeks gestation; House Bill 140 which offers the opportunity for abortion-minded women to view an ultrasound of their unborn child; and House Bill 171 that requires women undergoing chemical (or “medication”) abortions first have an in-person visit with a doctor.

Categories: Abortion
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