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Billings judge to decide fate of new Montana abortion laws

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Posted at 2:29 PM, Sep 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-23 17:47:52-04

BILLINGS — Whether three of Montana's four new abortion laws will go into effect as planned next week hangs in the balance.

Yellowstone County District Court Judge Gregory Todd heard arguments from the state and Planned Parenthood on Thursday morning.

Judge Todd's ruling will determine if there will be a preliminary injunction on the three laws.

The laws are set to go into effect on Friday, Oct. 1, which is the same day Judge Todd said he will issue his decision. A preliminary injunction would essentially pause the laws until the lawsuit, filed by Planned Parenthood, is settled.

The non-profit claims House Bills 136, 171, and 140 would result in immediate and irreparable harm.

“Beginning October 1st, women seeking pre-viability abortions after 20 weeks will be categorically barred from doing so. Other women will have their right to obtain their abortions earlier in pregnancy unduly infringed, will be stigmatized if they decide to seek such care,” said Raph Graybill, attorney for Planned Parenthood.

Judge Todd voiced concern about people turning to unsafe abortion methods to avoid punishment.

“The women want the abortion but it’s not going to be able to be performed by some of the medical practitioners,” Judge Todd said.

But the State responded by saying each law would have some flexibility.

“All of these new requirements can be waived if, by the judgment of the medical provider, there is serious risk to the mother that need to be immediately rectified through an abortion,” said David Dewhirst, solicitor general of Montana.

Judge Todd asked both parties to create a timetable based on possible outcomes to resolve the lawsuit by the end of the year.