Republican Lawmakers Shy Away From Changing Montana’s Constitutional Right to Abortion

by | Feb 16, 2023 | Health

Republican lawmakers in Montana wield a supermajority that gives them the power to ask voters to approve a constitutional amendment that would break the link between abortion rights and the right to privacy in the state’s constitution.

But so far, they haven’t sought to ask voters to make the change, a rewrite that would allow lawmakers to ban or further restrict abortion after the U.S. Supreme Court gave that power back to the states last year.

While 14 states have near-total bans on abortion since Roe v. Wade was overturned last year, Montana is one example of how, in some Republican-controlled states, the abortion policy battle will likely play out for a while.

“This takes time,” said Montana House Speaker Matt Regier, a Republican. “It took years to overturn the wrong decision of Roe v. Wade.”

Montana is one of 11 states — most recently joined by South Carolina — where courts have ruled that abortion access is a constitutional right, and legal battles to dismiss or entrench those rights are picking up. In Florida, reproductive health providers are challenging a 15-week total ban on abortion in the state Supreme Court, citing its long-standing interpretation that the state’s right to privacy extends to abortion. Legislation is pending over what standards Iowa will adopt after the state Supreme Court reversed its 2018 decision that due process and equal protections secured abortion access.

Meanwhile, in January, Minnesota — which already had a court ruling that abortion is a constitutional right — built that protection into state law and expanded the right to reproductive health care. The same month, the South Carolina Supreme Court struck down a ban on abortions after six weeks, joining …

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