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Court blocks four anti-abortion bills while lawsuits plays out

A Helena judge has blocked four anti-abortion bills and a health department rule restricting Medicaid coverage of abortion while lawsuits challenging their constitutionality play out.

Lewis and Clark County District Court Judge Mike Menahan handed down his decision to block the policies from the bench after a 4 hour hearing Tuesday, saying his job is to maintain the status quo while lawsuits are pending.

The bills passed during the 2023 legislative session ban abortion after 24 weeks, require ultrasounds before all abortions, restrict public dollars going to abortions and ban the most common method to terminate pregnancy in the second trimester. The state health department implemented its rule restricting Medicaid coverage of abortion last winter.

Montana’s three abortion providers challenged the policies, saying they violate Montana’s constitutional right to privacy.

The state’s defense attorneys say the policies are appropriate regulations to protect the health and safety of patients.

Copyright 2023 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit Montana Public Radio.

Shaylee is a UM Journalism School student. She reports and helps produce Montana Evening News on MTPR.