HELENA — Governor Greg Gianforte is asking the Montana Supreme Court to reconsider its stance on protected abortion in the state given the U.S. Supreme Court overturning of Roe v. Wade through the Dobbs v. Jackson decision.
The Dobbs ruling establishes the Constitution of the United States does not confer a right to abortion at the federal level, meaning states could set their own laws regarding abortion.
Legal challenges to Montana’s abortion laws have largely been shaped by the Montana Supreme Court’s 1999 Armstrong decision. In the ruling, the Court stated that the Montana Constitution “broadly guarantees each individual the right to make medical judgments affecting her or his bodily integrity and health in partnership with a chosen health care provider free from government interference,” including abortion.
However, the Armstrong decision cites Roe v. Wade as some of the court's definitions, such as Roe v. Wade’s determination that a “fetus does not enjoy a constitutionally protected status-i.e., that a fetus is not a constitutional person-until ‘viability.’”
In his motion filed Tuesday Gianforte wrote, “[B]ecause of Dobbs, the Court must necessarily revisit its decision in Armstrong. As part of that review, the Court will need to re-assess, without Roe, the limits of its authority to interpret a constitutional right to include that which was expressly intended and believed to be excluded from the Bill of Rights, and instead reserved to the Legislature.”
Gianforte also filed an amicus brief with the Montana Supreme Court in support of the State of Montana, which is appealing a lower court decision by District Judge Michael Moses in a lawsuit filed against the State by Planned Parenthood of Montana.
Planned Parenthood is challenging the constitutionality of several anti-abortion bills that were signed into law by Gianforte last year.
The laws, passed by the Republican majority in the 2021 Legislature, ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, restrict access to abortion-inducing drugs and require physicians to ask women seeking an abortion if they want to listen to the fetal heartbeat.