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Montana Seeks to Protect the Rights of Pregnant Women, Planned Parenthood Sues to Block Commonsense Safety Laws

Pregnant women deserve health and safety. They don’t forfeit that protection when they consider having an abortion.
Alliance Defending Freedom
"I wanted to show how rewarding choosing life can be while acknowledging the real-life struggle and pain for the mother."

When you break your leg and go see the doctor, you expect to see an X-ray confirming the diagnosis and helping to inform your decision about treatment and next steps.

If a doctor diagnoses you with cancer, you expect to see a scan that reveals the cancerous cells and determines the path forward.

And if you are pregnant and considering your options, it’s reasonable to expect an opportunity to see an ultrasound of your unborn child.

Shouldn’t informed care be the bare minimum for women considering abortion?

That’s what Montana state legislators thought when they passed legislation protecting the health and safety of women considering abortion.

Who is challenging Montana’s commonsense abortion laws?

In 2021, the Montana State Legislature adjusted the state’s long-standing health-and-safety protections designed to help protect women and unborn children.

Specifically, the legislature aimed to ensure that women would not be prescribed dangerous chemical abortion drugs without first being physically examined by a doctor. Additionally, expectant mothers would be offered an opportunity to see and hear an ultrasound of their child in the womb.

The new laws also banned risky late-term abortions in the sixth month of pregnancy and beyond, protecting women from a procedure that not only ends the life of the child, but can also have severe physical and psychological consequences for the mother.

Furthermore, the new set of laws protected Montana’s citizens, preventing them from being forced to pay for elective abortions.

Montana’s lawmakers recognized that the state has a duty to protect pregnant women from unnecessary medical risk and ensure that they are fully informed before they make life-ending and life-altering decisions.

Leaders understood that many women can feel pressured into choosing abortion. They may not fully understand what the procedure entails. They may be completely unaware of the developmental stage of their unborn child. And they may think they have no other options. By making an irreversible, uniformed choice, they could be subjecting themselves to a lifetime of guilt and regret.

Planned Parenthood of Montana v. State of Montana

After the new laws were passed in 2021, Planned Parenthood of Montana sued to block their implementation. Despite calling itself an organization dedicated to women’s “health,” Planned Parenthood of Montana is fighting these commonsense protections, several of which are already in place in many states. Just two years ago, in fact, Planned Parenthood dropped a case in Arizona that challenged similar health and safety protections in that state.

If Montana’s laws are struck down, the only beneficiaries will be those who profit from abortion. Recently, Planned Parenthood of Montana claimed to have performed nearly 1,200 abortions a year. These new laws protect women and unborn babies, and only abortionists benefit when expectant mothers receive substandard care.

What’s at stake?

All patients, including pregnant mothers, deserve the best care possible. That includes having all the information about their condition and the risks of any potential procedures offered by a physician.

“Women in Montana deserve protections for their health and safety, and full information about any medical procedure. This is no less true for a woman who seeks out an abortion,” said ADF Senior Counsel Denise Harle, director of the ADF Center for Life.

Case timeline

  • April 2021: Montana Governor Greg Gianforte signed into law four bills protecting the health and safety of women considering abortion.
  • August 2021: Planned Parenthood of Montana filed suit to block implementation of the new laws.
  • October 2021: A trial court issued a preliminary injunction in favor of Planned Parenthood of Montana.
  • January 2022: The Montana Attorney General, with Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys serving as co-counsel, filed a brief asking the Montana Supreme Court to deny Planned Parenthood’s request to block enforcement of the laws.

The bottom line

Pregnant women deserve health and safety. They don’t forfeit that protection when they consider having an abortion.