Pending abortion ban can’t be prevented, Montana judge rules

Apr 11, 2023, 10:48 AM

FILE - Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte signs one of three bills restricting access to abortion in Mo...

FILE - Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte signs one of three bills restricting access to abortion in Montana as sponsor of one of the bills, state Rep. Lola Sheldon-Galloway, R-Great Falls, watches in Helena, Mont., on April 26, 2021. Planned Parenthood of Montana filed a preemptive lawsuit Monday, April 10, 2023, seeking to stop legislation that would ban the abortion method most commonly used in the second trimester, arguing it's unconstitutional. (Thom Bridge/Independent Record via AP, File)

(Thom Bridge/Independent Record via AP, File)

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A bill to restrict abortions in Montana will become law — at least temporarily — if the governor signs it, a judge ruled.

Monday’s ruling denies a request by abortion rights advocates to preemptively block legislation that would ban the abortion method most commonly used in the second trimester.

District Court Judge Kathy Seeley said the request by Planned Parenthood of Montana was made before the bill became law, so there is nothing to block.

Montana’s Legislature approved the bill Friday. It would ban dilation and evacuation abortions, which are typically used later than 15 weeks into a pregnancy. The ban will take effect immediately if Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte signs it.

Planned Parenthood argued the law is unconstitutional based on a 1999 Montana Supreme Court ruling that found that the state Constitution’s right to privacy includes the right to have a pre-viability abortion from a provider of the patient’s choice.

The organization asked the court to freeze the law preemptively to make sure patients wouldn’t be prevented from getting care while the court considered the case.

“The motion was simply denied as premature and we will renew it as soon as the governor takes action on the bill,” said Martha Fuller, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Montana.

Fuller asked that the governor “be transparent about his plans for the bill, and when he will sign it.”

Gianforte hasn’t said if he plans to sign the bill. His administration criticized Planned Parenthood’s attempt to block the bill preemptively, saying the organization was employing “ extreme tactics.”

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Pending abortion ban can’t be prevented, Montana judge rules