Analysis

Planned Parenthood’s latest defeat; Montana can defend parental consent law

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The Montana Supreme Court ruled  Tuesday to reverse a prior decision in favor of Planned Parenthood. The case will return to District Court for further hearings. Meanwhile,  the state may continue to defend the parental consent law that was at the heart of this case.

The battle goes back to 1995, reports the Great Falls Tribune, when a law passed requiring physicians to notify the parents of girls under 18 before performing the abortion. After Planned Parenthood sued, the law was ruled unconstitutional in 1999. In 2012, voters in Montana approved The Parental Notice of Abortion Act (LR-120), which required parental notification for anyone under 16 seeking an abortion. Then in 2013, the legislature passed the Parental Consent Act, which required all women under the age of 18 to have a signed consent form from a parent or guardian in order to obtain an abortion.

Of course, these new laws upset the (unfriendly) neighborhood Planned Parenthoods who who decided to spend more money suing against these laws because the 1999 rule was ruled unconstitutional,  so these, the abortion giant said, were unconstitutional, too. And in 2014, a district judge, Jeffrey Sherlock agreed and ruled in Planned Parenthood’s favor.

The State of Montana, which didn’t appeal the 1999 ruling, did appeal this one. The Great Falls Tribune said:

“The state appealed and the Supreme Court ruled 4-1 that the issues were not identical. Specifically, the court noted that the 1995 law applied to all minors under 18, while the 2011 law applied only to minors under 16. The 1995 law required parental notification, but the 2013 law requires parental consent. They sent the case back to District Court.”

The nuances of the laws showed they were different laws, as consent and informed are different acts.  The Supreme Court ruling notes:

“The issues decided in the 1999 case were constitutional questions specific to the 1995 parental notification law that was challenged in that case. Specifically, the constitutional questions decided were: whether the 1995 law infringed upon the fundamental rights of minors; whether the State could assert a sufficiently compelling interest to justify the 1995 law’s infringement on the fundamental rights of minors; and whether the 1995 law complied with the Montana Constitution’s restriction against infringement upon minors’ rights unless doing so enhances the protection of minors.
“Although the laws that are the subject of the current challenge are similar to the 1995 law, they differ in substantive respects. Therefore, the issues to be decided in this case, while similar, are not identical to the previous case. Thus, as discussed below,  issue preclusion does not apply.”
While pro-lifers are celebrating the law, Planned Parenthood is crying foul. Martha Stahl, Montana president of Planned Parenthood declared the ruling against them both unconstitutional and harmful to minors. She said:

“Make no mistake — this is not over. We remain fully confident that these laws are not only bad health policy, but also clear violations of young Montana women’s constitutional rights.”

However, the Attorney General for the state, Tim Fox ,  said this was a victory for the rights of parents, who have to consent for things such as ear-piercing. Fox said in a statement:

“More than 70 percent of Montana voters and a majority of legislators enacted the parental notification and parental consent laws, The will of the people has been made clear. Today’s ruling means we can move forward in vigorously defending the fundamental rights of parents to be involved in the decisions their children face.”

Fox noted that now the case can be judged on its actual merits, apart from the issues that these laws are precluded by the previous ruling. In 38 states, parental consent or notification laws exist.

Planned Parenthood is always asking for money (and money and more money) to protect “women’s health.” It seems Planned Parenthood has a lot of extra cash lying around to file lawsuits and oppose practical laws over and over. Montana is only the latest in its string of lawsuits across the nation, and more often,  Planned Parenthood is losing, both the battle for abortion on demand, as well as  a lot of its money paying for these lawsuits. So much for women’s health care. All that money could be better used to provide real care for women, not just legal fees.

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