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Court hearing set for abortion case challenging parental consent and notification laws

A Planned Parenthood location in Indianapolis, IN.
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A Planned Parenthood location in Indianapolis, IN.

A decades-old lawsuit challenging two Montana laws requiring parental consent and notification for minors seeking abortions will head back to court Monday. Anti-abortion advocates continued their call for the judicary to make a final ruling on the case during a March for Life event last month.

“We need to see resolution. This is justice denied on a grand scale," says Jeff Lazloffy, president of the Montana Family Foundation which has long supported restricting access to abortion.

The case revolves around two laws challenged by Planned Parenthood of Montana. One was approved by ballot initiative in 2012 and another by the State Legislature in 2013. They require parental consent and parental notification when a minor is seeking an abortion in Montana. The consent law was put on hold by the court; the notification requirement remains in effect.

A similar law requiring parental notice before a minor could obtain an abortion was enacted in 1995, challenged by Planned Parenthood and struck down in district court. It was not appealed.

Martha Fuller, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Montana, says the organization is challenging the laws based on the state’s constitutional right to privacy.

“There are those kids for whom talking to their parents, getting their parents' permission, having their parents' consent, actually could put them in serious danger.”

Planned Parenthood of Montana is separately challenging four other laws passed during the 2021 legislative session restricting access to abortion. That case is ongoing and decisions in either suit could solidify or weaken past abortion law precendent.

The status hearing is set for February 14 in Lewis and Clark District Court.

Shaylee is Montana Public Radio's Capitol reporter. She previously worked for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and covered the 2019 legislative session for the University of Montana's Legislative News Service.