Montana judge strikes down state laws that make it harder to access abortion care - TAI News
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A Montana state district court judge issued a ruling on Feb. 29 that three laws posing significant hurdles to patients seeking abortion care are unconstitutional.

In his Feb. 29 ruling, District Court Judge Kurt Krueger wrote: “Under the guise of concern for the patient, they invade the private ‘treatment room,’ imposing severe burdens on both without clear justification supported by credible evidence.”

The trio of laws was passed during the 2021 session of the Montana Legislature. According to reporting by Reuters, a preliminary restraining order temporarily blocked them in the same year in response to a request by Planned Parenthood for an injunction.

In 2022, Planned Parenthood of Montana and Dr. Joey Banks filed a lawsuit on behalf of their patients, challenging Montana laws that ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy; and require that a pregnant person have an ultrasound and listen to fetal cardiac activity before obtaining an abortion; and require patients to have to in-person visits with a clinician before obtaining abortion medication.

On April 26, 2021, the day he signed the bill, Montana Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte said: “Today, we’re taking action to protect the most vulnerable amongst us, the unborn. We are celebrating life.”

In his recent decision, Krueger cited a ruling in Armstrong v. State, a 1999 Montana Supreme Court case, which held that abortion care was protected under the state Constitution as a right-to-privacy issue.

According to NPR, a spokesperson for the Republican attorney general of Montana, Austin Knudsen, said the state plans to appeal Krueger’s ruling. 

In January, Knudsen blocked a ballot proposal seeking to enshrine a right to abortion in the state Constitution. He wrote at the time, “Ballot Measure 14 creates an express right to abortion but denies voters the ability to express their views on the nuance of the right.”

“Montana, people call it a conservative state, but it’s actually more of a libertarian state,” Cora Neumann, a Democratic candidate for the Montana state Senate, , told KBZK. “Montanans really like their freedom, they like their privacy. They like to be able to live and let live, and so the Constitution that we have in this state is based on those freedoms and that ability to have privacy.”

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