Montana Challenges Planned Parenthood’s Request To Stop Laws Protecting Women

HELENA, Mont. – On Tuesday, attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom, representing the state of Montana as outside counsel with the Office of Attorney General Austin Knudsen, told a state court that it should reject Planned Parenthood’s request that the court block several state laws that protect women considering abortion. The abortion giant is seeking to halt enforcement of the laws even though previous court rulings demonstrate that the laws are presumed constitutional.

The state of Montana has long maintained health-and-safety regulations to help minimize the medical risks to mothers and ensure that pregnant women undergo the abortion procedure only after being fully informed about the risks and consequences. This year, the legislature adjusted these protections to guarantee that women are not prescribed dangerous chemical abortion drugs without first being physically examined by a physician, do not undergo risky late-term abortions in the sixth month of pregnancy or beyond, and are offered an opportunity to see and hear an ultrasound of their child in their own womb.

“Every woman deserves to have all the information she needs to make the healthiest choice for everyone involved in an unexpected pregnancy. In addition, the state has the duty to ensure that women are not subjected to unnecessary medical risks,” said ADF Senior Counsel Denise Harle. “Tragically, many women turn to abortion as a last resort, unaware of the resources available to them. No one benefits more from this situation than abortionists and their facilities. Because the regulations at issue protect women from the very people who are suing against these laws, Planned Parenthood has no basis for asking the court to halt what the legislature had every prerogative to pass.”

As the brief filed Tuesday with the 13th Judicial District Court in Yellowstone County explains, “abortion providers who profit from performing as many abortions as possible…seek to overturn these modest standard-of-care improvements, which embody the judgment of the citizens’ elected legislators, and halt these duly enacted laws.” Noting that the Montana Supreme Court has stated that “it does not necessarily follow from the existence of the right to privacy that every restriction on medical care impermissibly infringes that right,” the brief points out that “the claim that these regulations impermissibly infringe upon fundamental rights because any abortion regulation must necessarily do so” is meritless.

The laws at issue in Planned Parenthood of Montana v. State of Montana carried bill numbers HB 136, HB 171, HB 140, and HB 229. Last year, Planned Parenthood dropped a similar case in Arizona that challenged several laws protecting women in that state.

In an ADF case, NIFLA v. Becerra, the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed in 2018 that states can freely enact laws ensuring informed consent to abortion by requiring doctors to give truthful, relevant information to women.