HELENA, Mont. -- With the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on abortion giving legislative power to the states, how does this affect abortion in Montana?

As it stands right now, abortion remains legal in Montana, falling under the state constitution's right to privacy.

But legislation that remains pending at the Montana Supreme Court could change that.

In 2021, Montana legislators passed a number of laws putting limits on abortion, including who can perform them and how late they can be performed.

In October, Planned Parenthood filed suit against these laws as unconstitutional at the district level. But the state office of the attorney general appealed, meaning it's up to the Montana Supreme Court to make a decision.

"The court did what we call 'classifying the case,'" said Bowen Greenwood, the clerk of the Montana Supreme Court. "That means they assigned the case to five specific judges to decide."

The case went up to the court on April 19, and according to Greenwood, the deliberation process is finished, with the case being filed for decision back on May 11.

That means we could get a new ruling literally any day--though it could also take a while.

"At this point, we wait," Greenwood said. "The Montana Supreme Court has a policy in place that they generally try to decide these things within 180 days. They're usually a little faster than that on political cases, but there's no guarantees."

If the Montana Supreme Court does decide to rule in favor of the attorney general's office, that would remove abortion as a protected constitutional right.

However, that wouldn't outlaw abortion right away. Instead, it would leave the issue in the hands of the state legislators, who aren't set to gather again until next year, meaning any potential ban on abortion in Montana wouldn't come until 2023.

Additionally, if the Montana Supreme Court were to overturn abortion as a protected right, the aforementioned restrictions passed in 2021 could go into effect soon thereafter.


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