Montana Judge Blocks Law Banning Dismemberment Abortions That Tear Babies Limb From Limb

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   May 18, 2023   |   5:18PM   |   Helena, Montana

A Montana judge blocked a new pro-life law Thursday that protects second-trimester unborn babies from brutal dismemberment abortions.

Gov. Greg Gianforte signed the life-saving law Tuesday, but the abortion chain Planned Parenthood of Montana immediately sued to block it.

ABC FOX Montana reports District Court Judge Mike Menahan issued a temporary restraining order that prohibits the state from enforcing the law, and scheduled another hearing for May 23.

The judge said the law likely violates the Montana Constitution under a section protecting individuals’ right to privacy.

But state leaders and pro-life advocates said House Bill 721 protects nearly fully-formed unborn babies from a brutal, cruel abortion procedure that involves pulling them apart limb from limb while their heart is still beating and then removing their body in pieces from the womb. Typically, this is what occurs in a dilation and evacuation (D&E) abortion.

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Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys, who are serving as co-counsel with the Montana Attorney General’s Office, said the “brutal and inhumane procedure” should be banned.

“Every human life is valuable, and every baby deserves to be protected,” said ADF Senior Counsel Denise Harle, director of the ADF Center for Life. “The extreme lengths to which Planned Parenthood is willing to go to protect such a barbaric procedure makes it clear that the abortion industry only cares about its bottom line, not protecting women. Women deserve real health care, and unborn babies deserve a chance at life.”

In its lawsuit, Planned Parenthood contends that the abortion procedure is the “safest and most common” way to kill an unborn baby after 15 weeks.

Martha Fuller, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Montana, also claimed the law would “strip” women of their “personal freedom” by making it more difficult to get an abortion after 15 weeks.

“We’re glad the district court has once again recognized the grave harm these anti-abortion laws will have on people seeking basic health care and stepped in to grant this much-needed relief. Politics has no place in the exam room and we will not stand by as lawmakers race to take away access to abortion and strip us of our personal freedom,” Fuller said in a statement.

Here’s more from the AP:

The state of Montana argued that the law did not completely ban dilation and evacuation abortions. The procedure could still be done if the provider kills the fetus first by injecting it with a drug or saline solution, thus preventing the fetus from feeling pain, the state said in a court filing. …

Second-trimester abortions can also be performed by using medications to induce labor and delivery. The procedure takes place in a hospital where the patient can be monitored.

“None of the alternatives offered by the state for the banned procedure are feasible,” Planned Parenthood of Montana said in a statement. “They also carry more risk to the patient. This law bans the safest procedure after 15 weeks.”

Abortions never are safe for the baby. Their purpose is to kill the child before birth. In 2020, the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services reported 1,675 abortions.

Notably, Planned Parenthood filed a premature lawsuit against the dismemberment abortion ban in April. However, a judge quickly dismissed the lawsuit because the ban was not a law at the time.

Last week, Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen filed a motion seeking sanctions against Planned Parenthood for “knowingly and intentionally violating” state laws and “disrespecting the judiciary” by suing to block what was, at the time, a non-existent law.

“The sanctions will serve as punishment for the plaintiffs’ wasteful and abusive litigation tactics and deter the future use of such tactics by other special interest groups seeking to commandeer the Montana courts for unconstitutional aims,” his office said in a statement last week.

Republicans control the Montana Legislature. This spring, they also passed legislation to prohibit taxpayer funding for abortions, ban late-term abortions, make clear that aborting unborn babies is not a constitutional right, protect babies who survive abortions from infanticide and protect the conscience rights of pro-life medical professionals, according to the Independent Record.

Montana voters elected a strong majority of pro-life lawmakers to office, but courts repeatedly have thwarted their efforts to protect unborn babies’ lives. Most decisions are based on a 1999 Montana Supreme Court ruling that improperly found a “right” to abort unborn babies in the state constitution based on the right to privacy.