Planned Parenthood of Montana Prevails as Judge Grants Summary Judgment and Finds Three Anti-Abortion Laws Unconstitutional

Planned Parenthood of Montana Prevails as Judge Grants Summary Judgment and Finds Three Anti-Abortion Laws Unconstitutional

Client News

On Feb. 29, 2024, a Montana district court judge granted summary judgment for WilmerHale client Planned Parenthood of Montana (PPMT) and permanently enjoined three laws that severely limit abortion access.  State District Court Judge Kurt Krueger found for PPMT on every claim and every argument, holding that the laws violate the Montana constitution.

The laws restrict abortion in myriad ways, including by:

  • Banning abortion starting at 20 weeks into pregnancy, cutting off access at a critical time when severe and fatal fetal abnormalities are often discovered;
  • Significantly restricting access to medication abortions, including through telehealth services that are vital to access in a large, rural state like Montana; and
  • Seeking to stigmatize persons seeking abortions by mandating that healthcare providers ask patients if they would like to view and listen to an “active” ultrasound of the fetus, then documenting that choice.

WilmerHale and co-counsel Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Raph Graybill of Graybill Law Firm, P.C. challenged these restrictions as violating numerous fundamental rights protected by the Montana constitution, including the right to privacy, free speech, equal protection, and due process.

Judge Krueger concluded that “[u]nder the guise of concern for the patient,” these laws “invade the private ‘treatment room,’ imposing severe burdens ... without clear justification supported by credible evidence.” He further found that the laws “have the practical effect of inhibiting—or outright preventing—access to care for some of the most ‘intimate and personal’ choices, … rendering moral judgment on patients by subtly stigmatizing already-difficult decisions.’” As a result, the court held that “all three laws [are] incompatible with the text of the Montana Constitution and values it recognizes.”

WilmerHale and co-counsel had previously obtained a preliminary injunction against the laws in October 2021, then successfully defended that decision before the Montana Supreme Court in August 2022.

The WilmerHale team is led by Michelle Diamond and consists of Alan Schoenfeld, Kim Parker, Nicole Rabner, Alex Hiatt, Alex Miller, Rishita Apsani, Peter Kurtz, Sean Chang, Rebecca Darin Goldberg, Gillian Farrell, Courtney Murray, Taylor Solomon, Allie Talus, and Lydia Turnage.  


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