March 10, 2023

Montana Judge Blocks Parental Consent Law, Allows Parental Notification

A Montana Judge issued a ruling permanently blocking Montana's state law requiring minors under the age of 16 to obtain parental consent before getting an abortion. The judge allowed a parental notification law to remain in force pending a court decision.

District Court Judge Christ Abbott wrote in his decision that the Montana state constitution's right to privacy renders the parental consent law unconstitutional and unenforceable.

“Minors can abstain from consuming alcohol or getting a tattoo with little effect on their futures, but the same cannot be said of keeping a pregnancy or having an abortion,” Judge Abbott wrote according to the Daily Montanan. “There are few decisions with higher or longer-lasting stakes in life than whether to become or stay pregnant, and even fewer (if any) with equally profound spiritual, physical, mental, social, and economic considerations. The complexity of the dilemma only reinforces its individuality and therefore its place at the core of personal privacy.”

The parental notification and consent requirements stemmed from a 2012 ballot measure in which 66% of Montana voters approved legislation requiring parental notification. Before legislators passed that bill into law, they changed it to further require parental consent with signatures. Pro-lifers in the state argue that this was necessary because abortion businesses instructed minors to send notification letters to fake addresses.