Montana Court Blocks 3 Anti-Abortion Laws in Important Red State Win

"Courts are particularly wary of ideological or sectarian legislation presented as healthcare interests," the ruling states.

Montana Court Blocks 3 Anti-Abortion Laws in Important Red State Win

A Montana court has blocked three anti-abortion laws from taking effect, which would have banned abortion at 20 weeks, prohibited doctors from prescribing medication abortion through telehealth, required 24-hour waiting periods to have medication abortions, and required ultrasounds to be performed prior to an abortion. These laws were originally passed and signed into law by Montana’s Republican-majority legislature in 2021 but were temporarily blocked by a court injunction in October of that year.

District Court Judge Kurt Krueger wrote on Thursday that the laws in question imposed a significant burden on abortion access while also infringing on women’s state Constitutional right to access abortion prior to fetal viability, as established by a Montana Supreme Court ruling from 1999. Thursday’s ruling further specifies that “fetal viability” isn’t an arbitrary gestational marker, but something that should be determined by medical professionals rather than the state. “Courts are particularly wary of ideological or sectarian legislation presented as healthcare interests,” the ruling says.

In the state of Montana’s arguments in favor of the bogus slate of medically unnecessary, wholly political laws, the state claimed that the 1999 state Supreme Court ruling in question had been wrongly decided. The state now plans to appeal Krueger’s ruling to “[protect] the health and safety of women and unborn babies in Montana” (lol), but the 1999 ruling has been protecting pregnant people in a state otherwise governed largely by anti-abortion extremists from abortion bans for some time now, so good luck to the attorney general’s office, I guess!

“We are relieved that Montanans will no longer live with the threat of these harmful restrictions taking effect,” Martha Fuller, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Montana, said in a statement in response to Krueger’s ruling. Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, also said the ruling marked an important “win to fight for equitable abortion access in Montana and beyond.” Of course, while Montana residents won’t have to contend with an abortion ban at this time, there are still significant barriers to abortion access: 93% of counties in the state lack an abortion provider. Advocates are also currently challenging a 2023 law that would ban the dilation and evacuation abortion procedure (which is the most common procedure for abortions after 15 weeks) if a court allows it to take effect.

The ruling to block these abortion laws also comes after Montana voters rejected an insidious anti-abortion ballot measure in November 2022, which threatened doctors with criminal charges for failing to provide “life-saving care” to the newborn—even when no amount of action from doctors could realistically keep the baby alive, and families just want to be with their dying infant in its final moments. Despite the measure’s wildly deceptive framing, Montana voters still defeated it in an important testament to the fact that even ostensibly “red” states oppose abortion bans and state attacks on bodily autonomy.

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