Go to Content Go to Navigation Go to Navigation Go to Site Search Homepage

BILLINGS — Today, the Montana Supreme Court affirmed a lower court’s preliminary injunction blocking three laws that would have banned abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy and imposed a slew of new burdensome restrictions. The laws were enacted in the 2021 legislative session and have been blocked since Sept. 2021. They include:

  • H.B. 136, an unconstitutional ban on abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy;
  • H.B. 171, an omnibus measure creating numerous barriers to medication abortion, which include requiring at least two in-person health center visits, medically inaccurate counseling, a dangerous public reporting requirement, and a ban on the use of telehealth for abortion; and
  • H.B. 140, a mandatory ultrasound offer and documentation requirement designed to shame patients and stigmatize abortion.

Statement from Martha Stahl, president and CEO, Planned Parenthood of Montana: 

“We are pleased that the Montana Supreme Court ruled today to uphold the preliminary injunction put in place by the District Court in the fall. This means that three anti-abortion laws remain unenforceable, including a 20-week ban. The Court refused to overrule the Armstrong decision, which the State had requested be overturned, and abortion remains legal in Montana, protected by our constitutional right to privacy. This is a victory for our right to make personal medical decisions, free from the interference of government.”

The ruling comes just one week after Gov. Gianforte urged the Montana Supreme Court to  accept supplemental briefing on the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, which overturned Roe v. Wade in June. The Supreme Court denied that request today in a separate order. 

Planned Parenthood of Montana, represented by Planned Parenthood Federation of America, WilmerHale, and the Graybill Law Firm, challenged these laws — as well as H.B. 229, which would ban abortion coverage in the state health insurance exchange — one year ago, asserting that they violate the Montana Constitution. The rights to privacy and access to safe abortion services are clearly protected under the state constitution — so much so that even the legislature’s own lawyers warned that the challenged laws could be deemed unconstitutional. 

On Sept. 30, 2021, the district court temporarily blocked the laws—which were set to take effect Oct. 1, 2021—while it considered Planned Parenthood’s pending motion for a preliminary injunction. The court has now granted the preliminary injunction, preventing the laws from taking effect while litigation continues. 

The challenged laws would not only ban abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy, but they would also create additional, medically unnecessary barriers to care for all Montanans of reproductive age. For many Montanans, especially those who are Black, Latino, or Indigenous, who have low incomes, or who live in rural areas, accessing abortion is already difficult because they must secure the necessary funds, take time off work, and travel to appointments.  The Montana constitution offers strong protections for abortion that are more important than ever given the Supreme Court’s decision in June to overturn Roe v. Wade and end the federal constitutional right to abortion.

### 

Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable sexual and reproductive health care for all people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect, and without judgment, striving to create equitable access to health care. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable education and information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives. Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that supports the independently incorporated Planned Parenthood affiliates operating health centers across the U.S.

Planned Parenthood of Montana (PPMT) is a leading statewide organization that provides the full range of reproductive health care services, including birth control and abortion, life-saving cancer screenings, STI and HIV prevention, trans health care, testing and treatment for STIs, breast health services, Pap tests, sexual health education, and mental health counseling. PPMT’s mission is to lead by providing, promoting, and protecting sexual and reproductive health care and education for all Montanans.

Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP provides legal representation across a comprehensive range of practice areas that are critical to the success of its clients. The law firm’s leading Intellectual Property, Litigation/Controversy, Regulatory and Government Affairs, Securities and Financial Services, and Transactional Departments participate in some of the highest-profile legal and policy matters. With a staunch commitment to public service, WilmerHale is renowned as a leader in pro bono representation. The firm is 1,000 lawyers strong with 13 offices in the United States, Europe and Asia. For more information, please visit wilmerhale.com.