What the Supreme Court's draft decision on abortion could mean for Montana
The leak of a draft U.S. Supreme Court opinion that calls for overturning federal protections for abortion drew swift reaction Tuesday from Montana politicians and interest groups.
If Roe v. Wade is eventually overturned, access to abortion in Montana would not immediately change. A two-decade-old state precedent, known as the Armstrong ruling, protects abortion access under Montana’s constitutional right to privacy.
State Attorney General Austin Knudsen is asking the state’s high court to overturn that decision as part of a separate lawsuit over new state laws that restrict, but do not ban abortion.
Montana is not among more than two dozen states with so-called trigger laws that would automatically enact an abortion ban if Roe is overturned. Montana legislators, however, could move to enact such a law next year during the regular legislative session. They could also call a special session to do so.
Montana political leaders and interest groups respond
Montana abortion providers struck a defiant tone Tuesday to news of the leaked draft opinion.
Planned Parenthood of Montana President and CEO Martha Fuller issued a statement saying that “abortion is currently still legal, and we will continue to fight like hell to protect the right to access safe, legal abortion."
U.S Sen. Steve Daines, meanwhile, condemned the leak as "unprecedented and reprehensible." Daines, the founder and chair of the Senate Pro-Life Caucus, added he would also welcome the opinion if the draft stands.
U.S. Sen. Jon Tester said if this draft decision stands it will have “devastating consequences” for millions of women across the country.
Here's what elected leaders are saying about the draft decision:
Gov. Greg Gianforte released the following statement:
“This shameful, unprecedented leak is nothing more than an activist’s effort to undermine the Supreme Court and its integrity. The Judiciary must be able to conduct and complete its work without threat.
While outraged by this extraordinary breach, I join millions of hopeful Ameicans that Roe v. Wade will be put into the vault of history and that the American people and their elected representatives will be empowered once again."
U.S. Senator Jon Tester released the following statement:
“For nearly 50 years, women have been able to make their own private healthcare decisions without interference from the federal government. If reports are accurate and this draft decision stands, the removal of that fundamental right will have devastating consequences for millions of women across this country.”
U.S. Senator Steve Daines released the following statement:
“Leaking a draft opinion by the Supreme Court is unprecedented and reprehensible. There should be an immediate investigation into who is responsible as it is a clear attempt to intimidate the Court. With that said, if the draft opinion stands, the Court will have righted an historic injustice and returned the power to the American people and their elected officials to enact laws to protect unborn children and mothers.”
Rep. Matt Rosendale released the following statement:
"If confirmed, this ruling would be a monumental victory for the sanctity of life, ending a half-century guarantee of federal constitutional protection of abortion.
"Sadly, this leak is intended to put political pressure on the court to uphold Roe v. Wade."
State Senate President Mark Blasdel and House Majority Leader Sue Vinton released the following statement:
“We condemn this egregious leak by a woke liberal activist clearly designed to undermine and intimidate the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court must issue its ruling based solely on the text of the U.S. Constitution. We will wait for the Court’s official and final decision rather than comment on an improperly leaked draft. Roe v. Wade was wrong from the day it was issued and we hope and believe that Life will prevail.”
State House Minority Leader Kim Abbott and Senate Minority Leader Jill Cohenour released the following statement
“If this decision holds, Montanans’ right to access abortion care is under greater attack than ever before. It is clear that some politicians will not stop until they can control even the most intimate aspects of our private decision making. Our state’s Constitutional right to privacy has never been more critical, and Montana’s Democratic legislators will fight tooth and nail to defend it.
"As long as Montana’s Constitutional right to privacy remains intact, abortion will remain legal in Montana. That Constitutional right is currently being challenged in Montana’s courts."
Martha Fuller, President and CEO, Planned Parenthood of Montana released the following statement:
“Let's be clear: Abortion is legal. It is still your right.
"The media is reporting that the Supreme Court is going to overturn Roe v. Wade – the Supreme Court decision that established the right to abortion nearly 50 years ago — allowing states to ban abortion.
"We are here to tell you: Abortion is legal and is still protected in Montana by both our state constitution and by legal precedent. Planned Parenthood of Montana (PPMT) is still providing the health care you need and deserve, including abortion care, and stand with Montanans to protect the right to make decisions about your body, your life, and your future.
"This leaked draft opinion confirms our worst fears: that the Supreme Court is prepared to end the constitutional right to abortion by overturning Roe. While we have seen the writing on the wall for decades, it is no less devastating, and comes just as anti-abortion rights groups unveil their ultimate plan to ban abortion nationwide.
"Planned Parenthood and our partners have been preparing for every possible outcome in this case and, because of supporters across Montana and the country, we are ready for the fight. And we are the majority – a full 75% of the American people support abortion decisions being left to a person and their medical provider.
"PPMT’s health centers remain open, abortion is currently still legal, and we will continue to fight like hell to protect the right to access safe, legal abortion.”