Legislation /

Montana Governor Greg Gianforte Signs Ban on Second Term Abortions

Planned Parenthood of Montana legally challenged the policy

Elective abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy have been effectively outlawed in Montana following the enactment of several abortion-related regulations.

Governor Greg Gianforte signed new legislation prohibiting dilation and evacuation abortions, except when the procedure is necessary during a medical emergency where the child would not survive outside the womb. The surgical abortion procedure is most commonly used during a woman’s second trimester or after the 12th week of pregnancy. The governor’s office said the policy prevents taxpayer money from being used for elective abortions.

“I’m proud to round out our legislative session with another suite of pro-life, pro-family bills that protect the lives of unborn babies in Montana,” said Gianforte, a Republican, in a statement on May 16.

House Bill 721 specifically bans abortion procedures that involve dismemberment – such as dilation and evacuation abortions.

“Dismemberment abortion for nontherapeutic or elective reasons is a barbaric practice, dangerous for the mother, and demeaning to the medical profession. House Bill 721 makes clear that it has no place in Montana,” said the governor. Similar bans have been established in Texas and Michigan. Under Montana’s law, anyone who performs an elective dilation and evacuation abortion after 15 weeks could face felony charges and have his or her medical license suspended for a year. 

Opponents of anti-“dismemberment abortion” laws argued the restriction is an attack on abortion rights.

Planned Parenthood of Montana legally challenged the abortion procedure regulation after Gianforte signed the regulation into law. 

“HB721 is a grave threat to Montanans’ health and safety and must be blocked,” said Planned Parenthood Advocates of Montana President Martha Fuller in a statement. “Given the law’s immediate effective date, patients across the state can already be denied access to care that was legally available moments before the Government’s signature today. We hope the Court will block this dangerous abortion ban.”

The Guttmacher Institute, a progressive sexual and reproductive health research organization, has called the term “dismemberment abortion” an example of “inflammatory rhetoric designed to arouse antiabortion sentiment.”

“Despite these ongoing attacks, Planned Parenthood of Montana’s doors remain open and we will continue doing everything possible to provide essential abortion care to our patients,” she added.

Gianforte also signed two bills that regulate what funding can be used to cover the cost of abortions.

Under House Bill 544, the Department of Health and Human Services is required to ensure abortions being paid for through Medicaid are medically necessary. 

The second policy, House Bill 862, “brings Montana in line with the federal Hyde Amendment to bar the use of taxpayer dollars to fund abortions except to save the life of a woman or in cases of incest or rape,” according to the governor’s office.

“Montanans sent us to Helena to boldly defend life, not send their tax dollars to abortion clinics,” said Gianforte. 

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