Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen and Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services Director Adam Meier issued an advisory today to clarify the current status of, and Montanans’ rights and obligations, under the Parental Notification of Abortion Act of 2011. Montana Code books reflect that House Bill 391 (2013) repealed portions of this law. However, the Montana Code doesn’t account for court decisions, and these provisions are in fact current law.
The Parental Notification of Abortion Act, which was approved by more than 70% of voters via LR-120 in 2012, makes it illegal to coerce a minor into having an abortion and requires that a medical professional performing an abortion for a pregnant minor must notify at least one parent or legal guardian of the pregnant minor at least 48 hours in advance.
“Over 70% of Montanans supported this commonsense law aimed at preventing the exploitation of vulnerable young girls,” the advisory reads. “General Knudsen and Director Meier recognize LR-120 remains subject to legal challenge; however, until a court finally rules on the case—and several Montana judges have refused to do so for several years—it is the law of Montana, and it will be enforced.”
Following the overwhelming voter approval of LR-120, the legislature passed – and Governor Steve Bullock allowed to go into effect – House Bill 391 in 2013, which would have replaced the parental notification requirement with parental consent for a minor to undergo an abortion. However, a Helena judge enjoined it, preserving the existing parental notification requirements. The voter-approved LR-120, therefore, remains in effect and good law. Its provisions are located in MCA, §§ 50-20-221 to -225, -228 to -229, -232, and -235 (2011).
Persons convicted of performing an abortion in violation of the law face fines of up to $500 and six-months imprisonment. Persons convicted of illegally coercing a minor into having an abortion face fines up to $1,000 for the first offense and $50,000 for subsequent offenses, as well as imprisonment for up to one year for the first offense and five years for subsequent offenses.
In the ensuing years, several Montana judges have refused to rule on the House Bill 391 case, keeping in place the “preliminary injunction” to which the Bullock-Fox administrations consented for nearly a decade.
Click here to read the full advisory and the provisions of law that are still in effect.