Montana leaders react to abortion ruling, as focus shifts to states

Montana State Capitol
Posted at 9:13 AM, Jun 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-24 13:13:55-04

HELENA — Reaction poured in quickly from Montana elected leaders in the minutes after the U.S. Supreme Court released its decision overturning Roe v. Wade – eliminating a nationwide guarantee of abortion rights. Statements from Montana lawmakers made it clear the focus will now shift to the battle within the state.

Montana Senate President Mark Blasdel, R-Kalispell, and House Majority Leader Sue Vinton, R-Billings, released a statement praising the decision and calling on the Montana Supreme Court to reverse its own 1999 decision that found the state constitution’s right to privacy gave women the right to have an abortion prior to fetal viability.

"Today we celebrate the Supreme Court's historic decision to correct a constitutionally wrong decision from decades ago that has harmed so many,” Blasdel and Vinton said. “As the debate over abortion shifts to the states, all eyes in Montana need to be on our own judicial branch of government. Montana judges should rule based on the text of our state constitution, which doesn't mention abortion at all, and overturn the activist and erroneous Armstrong decision. Unlike Montana Democrats who support abortion on demand until the moment of birth, Legislative Republicans are committed to proceeding strategically to protect pre-born Montana children."

House Minority Leader Kim Abbott, D-Helena, and Senate Minority Leader Jill Cohenour, D-East Helena, said in their statement that, as long as Montana’s right to privacy remains intact, abortion will remain legal – but that right was being challenged in the court.

“With this decision, an all-out ban on abortion is on the table in a way we have not seen for decades,” Abbott and Cohenour said. “Now, our state’s Constitutional right to privacy is the only thing standing between Montanans and the politicians who want to control the most intimate aspects of our private decision making.”

Gov. Greg Gianforte said in his statement that he was already considering what could come next in the state.

“Today marks a historic win for life, families, and science,” he said. “With this monumental decision, the Supreme Court has restored power to the American people and their elected representatives. I'm in discussions with legislative leaders on next steps as we work to protect life in Montana.”

Montana’s congressional delegation also issued statements shortly after the decision.

Sen. Steve Daines and Rep. Matt Rosendale, both Republicans, hailed the ruling.

“The United States Supreme Court's decision in Dobbs today ends a historic injustice and rightfully ends one of the world’s most horrific abortion policies,” Daines said. “The long overdue demise of judicially-imposed abortion on demand gives bright new hope to unborn children and their moms across America. Now the American people begin a new chapter in which they, through their elected representatives at the state and federal level, have the power to end the violence of abortion. I will not rest until the day that every child is protected under our laws and can enjoy our nation’s most sacred right—the right to life.”

“Today's ruling is a historic victory in protecting and defending the sanctity of life,” said Rosendale. “I have always been a staunch advocate for the lives of the unborn, and today the United States Supreme Court has finally redressed a grievous wrong. Now state legislatures, elected by their constituents, will be able to pass meaningful laws that protect life. Our fight, however, does not end today. Certain states in the union will continue adopting radical abortion measures. Because of that, we must stand united to be a voice and advocate for all lives and do so until every unborn life in the United States is protected.”

Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat, criticized the decision and reiterated his support for a proposed bill that would codify Roe v. Wade into federal law.

“For nearly 50 years, women have been able to make their own healthcare decisions without interference from the government,” he said. “The Supreme Court’s ruling now means women and doctors will be put in jail when exercising this long-held right in states across the country. No judge or politician should be telling women how to live their lives or undermining their fundamental right to privacy.”