NRL News

Montana Judge Strikes Down Three Pro-Life Laws, Attorney General Will  Appeal

by | Mar 5, 2024

Gov. Greg Gianforte

By Dave Andrusko

In a ruling handed down last week, District Court Judge Kurt Krueger struck down three separate pro-life bills passed by the Montana legislature and signed by Gov. Greg Gianforte: House Bill 136, House Bill 171, and House Bill 140.

“All three laws were passed by lawmakers in 2021 and subsequently blocked by a preliminary injunction imposed in October 2021,”  Bridget Sielicki reported. With Kreuger’s ruling, the injunction against the laws becomes permanent.”

House Bill 136—the Montana Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act— protects pain-capable unborn children who are 20 weeks gestational age from abortion. House Bill 140 offers the opportunity for abortion-minded women to view an ultrasound of their unborn child. HB171 requires informed consent for a woman undergoing chemical (or “medication”) abortions and have an in-person visit. It also prohibits women from accessing medication abortion through the mail and through telehealth.

“There are currently other pro-life laws in the state that are being challenged in the courts, including 2023 laws that would prohibit dilation and evacuation (D&E) abortions (sometimes referred to as dismemberment abortions), would require prior authorization before Medicaid will cover abortions, and would require abortionists to be either physicians or physicians assistant,” Sielicki wrote.

Emilee Cantrell, a spokesperson for Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen, said Knudsen plans on appealing the decision. “Attorney General Knudsen remains committed to protecting the health and safety of women and unborn babies in Montana,” Cantrell said in a statement.

Naturally, the abortion industry was ecstatic. “As we celebrate today, we will continue to build on this win to fight for equitable abortion access in Montana and beyond,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

In his decision, Judge Krueger cited  the Montana Supreme Court’s 1999 Armstrong ruling “that said the state Constitution’s right to privacy includes a woman’s right to obtain a pre-viability abortion from the provider of her choice,” Amy Beth Hanson reported. “That ruling did not say at what point a fetus becomes viable, saying it is a complex concept determined by medical judgment and that cannot be reduced to a gestational age”

In his decision, Judge Krueger went on to write, “[House Bill 171] violates the right to privacy by imposing numerous and severe burdens on patients and providers, which lack a basis in demonstrable medical science and do not apply to any other medical treatment.” He added, “The state produced no discovery showing the risks of telehealth administered medication abortion versus in-person. Moreover, the state admits that Montana law does not expressly authorize or prohibit telehealth for any other medical provider.”

Categories: State Legislation