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Montana

Restrictions on Young Women's Access to Abortion

Montana law restricts young women's access to abortion.

Is the law enforceable?  No. In May, 2013, Planned Parenthood of Montana v. State of Montana (ADV: 2013-207) challenged Montana's parental-consent and parental-notification laws: the Parental Notice of Abortion Act of 2011, and the Parental Consent for Abortion Act of 2013 (Mont. Code Ann. § 50-20-221 to -235 and § 50-20-501 to -511 (Enacted 2012; Last Amended 2013)).  The parental-notification law for persons under 16 years old seeking abortion care became law through a referendum.  The subsequent 2013 law repealed the referendum and replaced it with a parental-consent requirement for any person under 18 years old seeking abortion care.

In a February 2014 decision, a Montana district court judge held that the two measures are unconstitutional, citing an earlier court decision that answered a substantially similar question. The laws is currently enjoined and unenforceable.

Who is considered a minor?  A young woman under the age of 18 who has never been married and who has not been granted an order of limited emancipation.

What is required - parental consent or parental notice?  Consent.

Who must provide consent?  One parent.

Are there other trusted adults who may provide consent instead?  No.

What is the process for providing consent?  A young woman may not obtain an abortion without notarized written consent of a parent or legal guardian.

May the parental mandate be waived if a young woman is a victim of rape or incest?  Yes, but the young woman must go to court.

May the parental mandate be waived if a young woman is a victim of child abuse?  Yes, but the young woman must go to court.

May the parental mandate be waived if a young woman's health is threatened?  Yes, but only if the attending physician certifies in writing that a medical emergency exists.  A medical emergency is defined as a condition that necessitates an immediate abortion to preserve the woman's life or for which a delay will create "serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function."

May the parental mandate be waived under any other circumstances?  Yes, the young woman may try to obtain permission from a judge.

If a young woman must obtain permission from a judge, what is the process?  She must secure a court order finding that she is competent to make her own decision, that there is evidence that she has been subject to a pattern of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse by one or both parents, or that parental notice is not in her best interests.

Are there other significant requirements under the law?  No.

Has a court considered the constitutionality of this law?  Yes.  In May 2013, Planned Parenthood of Montana v. State of Montana (ADV: 2013-207) challenged Montana's parental-consent and parental-notification laws: the Parental Notice of Abortion Act of 2011, and the Parental Consent for Abortion Act of 2013 (Mont. Code Ann. § 50-20-221 to -235 and § 50-20-501 to -511 (Enacted 2012; Last Amended 2013)).  The parental-notification law for persons under 16 years old became law through a referendum.  The subsequent 2013 law sought to repeal the referendum and replace it with a parental-consent requirement for any person under 18 years old. In a February 2014 decision, a Montana district court judge held that these two measures are unconstitutional, citing an earlier court decision that answered a substantially similar question. These laws are currently enjoined and unenforceable. 

Other information about the law:  None. Mont. Code Ann. § 50-20-221 to -235 and § 50-20-501 to -511 (Enacted 2012; Last Amended 2013).



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