From the SFLA Blog

Montana AG: Pro-Life Law Should Go Into Effect After Being Suspended in Courts for 9 Years

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Caroline Wharton - 10 May 2022
Montana AG: Pro-Life Law Should Go Into Effect After Being Suspended in Courts for 9 Years
montana ag says pro-life law should go into effect
Guest post by Students for Life of America’s Contributing Writer Anna Reynolds

GUEST POST: Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen is calling attention to one of the abortion industry’s favorite ways to block pro-life laws: the courts. Knudsen, who took office in 2021, filed a motion this year to remove a preliminary injunction blocking a 2013 law requiring parental consent for minors to undergo elective abortion.  

Montana House Bill 391, passed in 2013, requires parental consent for a minor to undergo an abortion, but has not been enforced since a lawsuit by Planned Parenthood that same year. The legislation followed a 2012 referendum in which Montana voters overwhelmingly approved a parental notification requirement for minors to undergo an abortion. Now, nine years later, the parental consent law is still stalled in the courts, and Big Abortion has enjoyed nearly a decade flouting the pro-life law. 

montana ag says pro-life law should go into effect

In a motion filed April 20, Knudsen wrote that House Bill 391 “must be allowed to take effect immediately. Not next week. Not on or after June 10, 2022. Today.” Knudsen continued, “The State moves to dissolve the preliminary injunction in this case. It’s been 3,181 days since the consent injunction was entered. That’s eight years, eight-and-a-half months, or 104.5 months, or 34.8 trimesters since the State agreed to a preliminary injunction because it was confident the case would be decided quickly.” 

In 2013, then-Attorney General Tim Fox agreed to the preliminary injunction in order “to avoid a hectic legal schedule and because everyone expected a quick resolution in the case,” according to the Billings Gazette. Since then, however, the lawsuit was passed from judge to judge, changing districts. Currently, the case is expected to hear oral arguments in Lewis and Clark County District Court in Helena. 

A spokesperson for Planned Parenthood claimed the motion was filed for “no other reason than they believe this case is proceeding too slowly.” The statement continued, “This motion is patently meritless, as well as inexplicable…” What Planned Parenthood fails to mention is that the lawsuit preventing the enforcement of a measure that won the strong approval of Montana voters and duly elected representatives in the state legislature.  

montana ag says pro-life law should go into effect

While Planned Parenthood suggests the state offered “no evidence suggesting the circumstances justifying preservation of the status quo have changed,” the passage of nine years is the obvious reason for Knudsen’s motion. A preliminary injunction is not supposed to be permanent, and pundits agree that all parties expected a quick resolution to the abortion industry’s frivolous lawsuit.  

Helena Judge Chris Abbott disagreed with Knudsen and refused to remove the preliminary injunction. In an order, Abbott wrote, “The court recognizes the legitimate frustration about how long it has taken to answer the question of whether these statutes are constitutional.” Abbott continued, “For better or worse, however, the state agreed to the rules of the game when it started, and under the facts here, the passage of time alone is not enough to justify changing those rules as the ninth inning approaches.” 

“Surely, neither the state nor Planned Parenthood anticipated in the summer of 2013 that their agreed preliminary injunction would remain in effect through the summer of 2022 or beyond,” Abbott admitted in his order, but nonetheless stated that the injunction stands. Abbott suggested that the hearing scheduled for June will likely resolve the case. 

montana ag says pro-life law should go into effect

In response to the order, Knudsen’s office criticized the previous attorney general. “The previous administration should not have consented — for even a day — to enjoin this commonsense law that protects young girls from sexual assault and abuse,” spokesperson Emilee Cantrell said in an email Friday, according to the Billings Gazette. Cantrell’s comment highlights the history of the abortion industry aiding abusers and failing to report crimes against minors. Cantrell added, “We’re glad that Judge Abbott will finally rule on the merits of the case in June after nearly a decade of inaction from numerous other Montana judges.” 

Knudsen demonstrated much-needed leadership in standing up to the bullying tactics of the abortion industry. Beyond the parental consent law that has been languishing in the courts for nine years, there are several other pro-life Montana laws that have been blocked by legal maneuvering from abortion activists. Last August, Planned Parenthood filed suit challenging four pro-life measures, including several that Students for Life Action was instrumental in lobbying for.  

With the recent order maintaining the preliminary injunction, the abortion industry is likely emboldened to go behind the backs of voters to manipulate activist courts to prevent life-saving laws from going into effect.  

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