Judge extends order blocking Montana protective abortion restrictions from taking effect

By Dave Andrusko

Signaling broadly that he believes all three protective pro-life laws are unconstitutional, Montana District Judge Michael Moses issued a preliminary injunction against HB 136, HB 140, and HB 171. In so doing late Thursday, Judge Moses extended his temporary order issued a week ago, the day before October 1 deadline for the laws to take effect.

More specifically, House Bill 136—the Montana Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act–bans abortions performed on pain-capable unborn children who are 20 weeks gestation age. House Bill 140 offers the opportunity for abortion-minded women to view an ultrasound of their unborn child.

HB171 requires informed consent for a woman undergoing chemical (or “medication”) abortions and have an in-person visit. It also prohibits women from accessing medication abortion through the mail and through telehealth.

According to reporter Mike Dennison

In the 35-page order issued late Thursday, Moses said he blocked the laws because they would cause “irreparable harm” to Planned Parenthood of Montana and its patients, by taking away a “constitutionally protected right” to an abortion.

Emilee Cantrella, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Austin Knudsen, said Moses’ order “deprives women and unborn children of common-sense health protections.” She added, “It’s not surprising that Planned Parenthood is attacking our laws, since no one benefits more from sub-standard health protections than abortionists and their businesses,”

Judge Moses replaced District Judge Gregory Todd of Billings who recused himself when the state accused him of bias against its case.

Each of the bills passed the Montana legislature overwhelmingly. Under the category of elections-do-make-a-difference, they were signed into law by pro-life Governor Greg Gianforte, the first Republican governor in 16 years.

As we reported at the time, Gov. Gianforte said

“Today we’re taking action to protect the most vulnerable amongst us, the unborn — we are celebrating life.”

He also said, according to an earlier story by Holly Michaels of the Helena Independent Record,

“There were many who served in this building before us who champion the unborn, people who worked hard to advance the cause of life. ….Unfortunately, their efforts were vetoed. But not today.”