Three laws in Montana limiting abortion are unconstitutional, a state judge ruled Thursday, according to the Daily Montanan.
The laws ban abortion after 20 weeks and by way of telehealth services , as well as require a 24-hour waiting period and two ultrasounds. District Court Judge Kurt Krueger sided with Planned Parenthood of Montana, which filed the lawsuit and argued that the government shouldn’t be able to “infringe” on bodily autonomy any more than it can force someone to have an abortion, the Daily Montanan reported .
“Notably, Armstrong rejected the state’s attempts to regulate abortion, not on the basis that the procedure should be protected per se, but because a woman’s right to ‘decide up to the point of fetal viability, what her pregnancy demands’ implicates her right to ‘procreative autonomy,’” Krueger wrote, referring to Armstrong v. State, the 1999 ruling that pre-viability abortion is constitutional under the Montana Constitution’s right to privacy.
“If the state can infringe on that autonomy ‘in favor of birth, then, necessarily it also has the power to require abortion,’ neither of which would be acceptable,” the judge ruled.
The three Montana laws have been under a preliminary injunction for several years, barring their enforcement as the lawsuit made its way through the courts, according to local media outlet KTVH. The state argued that the 1999 Montana Supreme Court decision erred in declaring that the right to privacy is protected when an infant isn’t viable.
“It is undisputed that no fetus is presently viable at that point” and the 20-week ban is “ideologically motivated legislation,” Krueger contended, according to the Daily Montanan.
Krueger also took issue with Montana’s argument that states have a “compelling interest” to preserve human life following the June 2022 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision, in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, to overturn Roe v. Wade.
“The state cites Dobbs for its assertion that it has a compelling interest in ‘respecting and preserving human life, including prenatal life at all stages of development,’ regardless of determinations of viability. But Dobbs does not control here. Federal precedent is not binding on questions of state constitutional law,” Krueger wrote.
Martha Fuller, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Montana, told the Daily Montanan that the organization is “relieved that Montanans will no longer live with the threat of these harmful restrictions taking effect.”
KTVH reported that a spokesperson for Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen, a Republican, said that he plans to appeal the ruling and remains “committed to protecting the health and safety of women and unborn babies in Montana.”
Originally published by the Daily Caller News Foundation
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