Montana News

Dec 11, 2013 1:27 PM by Lindsey Gordon (lindsey@kxlh.com)

Planned Parenthood asks judge to declare two MT abortion laws 'unconstitutional'

HELENA - Planned Parenthood is asking a district judge to strike down two Montana laws they say restrict minor's rights by requiring parental involvement in abortions.

The first law, LR-120, passed on the 2012 ballot requires females under the age of 16 to notify their parents before getting an abortion.

The other passed by the Montana Legislature in 2013, HB 391, requires females under the age of 18 to get their parent's permission before an abortion.

District Judge Jeffrey Sherlock must decide whether or not a 1999 court ruling applies to this case.

Planned Parenthood argues the old ruling gives minors the same privacy rights as adults and the new laws deprive minors of their equal protection under the law.

But the state says it has an interest to ensure the safety of minors and the judge should allow the laws to stand.

Planned Parenthood attorney Meg Holzer, argues "A pregnant minor has only two choices. Carry the pregnancy to term, or have an abortion. And under Montana law, you can't privilege one of those choices over another."

"I don't think it's fair for them to try to come in here and try to say, 'Well, Montana's Constitutional claim, we have this equal protection righ,t' and all that. None of that's relevant to whether or not the state has compelling interest or not," countered Montana Solicitor General Lawrence VanDyke.

Judge Sherlock will likely make a decision sometime in January.

If he decides the 1999 ruling applies in this case the laws will be struck down as unconstitutional.

If he decides the old law does not apply, both parties will have a chance to argue their full case in court.

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