Montana Judge Rules Three Abortion Laws, Including A 20-week Limit, As Unconstitutional

Aiexpress – A state judge in Montana has declared three laws that limit abortion access as unconstitutional. The laws in question include a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of gestation. Planned Parenthood of Montana had filed a motion for summary judgment, which was granted by the judge.

In October 2021, a preliminary injunction was granted to block three laws passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature in 2021. These laws included a 20-week ban on abortions, a ban on telehealth prescriptions of abortion medication with a requirement of a 24-hour waiting period after giving informed consent, and a mandate for providers to offer patients the option of viewing an ultrasound or listening to the fetal heart tone.

“We are grateful that the people of Montana will no longer have to endure the looming threat of these detrimental restrictions,” expressed Martha Fuller, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Montana. However, she emphasized that their work is far from over, highlighting how Montana’s Legislature recently passed a series of bills aimed at further restricting abortion access in 2023.

According to Fuller, the commitment to providing accessible healthcare to both Montanans and those who travel for medical treatment will remain unwavering.

In his decision, District Court Judge Kurt Krueger referred to a 1999 Montana Supreme Court ruling. This ruling established that the state Constitution’s right to privacy encompasses a woman’s ability to seek an abortion from her chosen healthcare provider before the fetus reaches viability. The court acknowledged that determining the point of viability is a multifaceted issue that requires medical expertise, and cannot simply be based on gestational age.

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The state has consistently argued that the 1999 Armstrong ruling was decided incorrectly and has made multiple attempts, but without success, to persuade the Montana Supreme Court to overturn it.

Emilee Cantrell, spokeswoman for the Department of Justice, stated that the state intends to appeal Judge Krueger’s ruling.

In an email statement, she emphasized that Attorney General Knudsen’s dedication to safeguarding the well-being of women and unborn babies in Montana remains unwavering.

Thursday’s ruling emphasizes that courts are particularly cautious when it comes to legislation that is presented as healthcare interests but is actually driven by ideological or sectarian motives.

The Armstrong ruling in Montana states that imposing legal limits under the pretense of protecting the patient’s health, but driven by relentless pressure from individuals and organizations promoting their own beliefs, is morally indefensible.

Montana passed several abortion restrictions in 2023 that are currently facing challenges. One of these restrictions prohibits most dilation and evacuation abortions, which are commonly performed after 15 weeks of gestation. Another requirement is that Medicaid will only cover abortions after prior authorization. Additionally, the state now mandates that only physicians and physician assistants are allowed to perform abortions.

In May 2023, the Supreme Court of Montana made a significant ruling, stating that advanced practice registered nurses with proper training can now offer abortion care.

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