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Attorney General challenges legal precedent protecting abortion in Montana

Women hold  pro-choice signs during a rally in Missoula, MT, May 21, 2019.
Edward O'Brien
Montana Public Radio
Women hold pro-choice signs during a rally in Missoula, MT, May 21, 2019.

Montana’s attorney general is asking the state supreme court to overturn a 23-year-old precedent of constitutional protection for access to abortion. The request is part of a court battle over abortion restrictions signed into law last year.

Attorney General Austin Knudsen is asking the Montana Supreme Court to overturn protections established in the 1999 Armstrong case, which hinges on the state's constitutional right to privacy.

Knudsen is also asking the high court to lift a temporary block on three new laws restricting abortion care. He says the laws passed by the 2021 Montana Legislature are "basic regulations of the practice of medicine."

The court ordered Knudsen to resubmit the brief with revisions to adhere to formatting rules before it’ll rule on the merits.

A district court stopped the laws from going into effect in October while a lawsuit from Planned Parenthood plays out. The laws ban abortions at 20 weeks, require providers to offer ultrasounds before an abortion and restrict access to medication abortions.

Planned Parenthood of Montana’s case is based on the Armstrong precedent.

Shaylee covers state government and politics for Montana Public Radio. Please share tips, questions and concerns at 406-539-1677 or  
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