Planned Parenthood Sues Montana to Strike Down ‘Cruel’ Pro-Life Laws

A pro-abortion rights group yells during the March for Life 2016, in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, Friday, Jan. 22, 2016 in Washington, during the annual rally on the anniversary of 1973 'Roe v. Wade' U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Planned Parenthood has filed a lawsuit against the state of Montana with the claim that four pro-life laws that easily passed through the state legislature and were signed into law by the governor are unconstitutional.

Filed Monday in Yellowstone County District Court, Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit claims the laws “are nothing more than poorly disguised attempts to chip away at Montanans’ access to safe and constitutional abortion.”

“Their combined effect is particularly cruel and prohibitive – pushing women seeking abortion later into pregnancy and also cutting off access to abortion at an earlier gestational age,” the abortion industry giant stated.

U.S. Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT), founder and chairman of the Senate Pro-Life Caucus, condemned the lawsuit:

This lawsuit attempts to force an extreme abortion agenda on Montana. It is despicable that Planned Parenthood is seeking to undo the Montana legislature’s life-saving laws that prevent barbaric late-term abortions on babies who can feel pain, taxpayer funding for abortion, and reckless do-it-yourself abortions by mail. This is yet another example of how the abortion industry puts profits over patients, ignores science, and weaponizes the Courts to thwart the will of Montana voters.

The lawsuit seeks to block the following laws:

  • HB 136, which bans abortions after 20 weeks, or the fifth month, of pregnancy, when scientists say unborn babies can experience pain;
  • HB 140, which requires abortion providers to offer patients an ultrasound prior to terminating the pregnancy;
  • HB 171, which requires abortion-inducing drugs to be administered in person rather than through telemedicine; and
  • HB 299, which bans Obamacare subsidized insurance plans from providing coverage for abortion.

The lawsuit is also expected to create debate over the Montana State Supreme Court’s 1999 unanimous opinion in Armstrong v. State, which dismissed the votes of lawmakers opposed to abortion and found “the legislature has neither a legitimate presence nor voice in the patient/health care provider relationship superior to the patient’s right of personal autonomy.”

In her statement about the lawsuit, Planned Parenthood CEO Alexis McGill Johnson referred to the fact that, prior to the election of Gov. Greg Gianforte (R), the abortion industry enjoyed 16 years of Democrat governors who blocked pro-life legislation:

For years, dangerous laws in Montana that would restrict access to abortion have been successfully blocked. Now, Gov. Gianforte has put his personal beliefs over the needs of his constituents and has signed into law harmful bills that make abortion inaccessible. These laws are designed to create more barriers for Montanans seeking access to essential health care. Instead of advocating for expanded access to health care services, Montana legislators have focused their attention on attacking abortion. That’s why we are going to court to protect our patients’ access to abortion in Montana and across the country.

The Montana lawsuit comes as the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments in the fall about a Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks gestation.

The petition asks “whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional” in the United States, and poses the most significant challenge in decades to the right to abortion created by the Supreme Court in its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen said he looks forward to defending “clearly valid statutes and to protecting the lives of the unborn,” according to the Montana Free Press.

The case is Planned Parenthood of Montana v. State of Montana, No. DV21-00999 in Montana Thirteenth Judicial District Court, Yellowstone County.


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