Montana Attorney General Shoots Down Proposal to Enshrine Abortion in State Constitution

Austin Knudsen
by Kate Anderson


Attorney General Austin Knudsen of Montana stopped an abortion ballot proposal from going through on Tuesday, claiming it was “legally insufficient,” according to the Montana Free Press.

Planned Parenthood Advocates of Montana launched the ballot initiative in November 2023, which would prevent “the government from denying or burdening the right to abortion before fetal viability,” according to the Idaho Capital Sun. Knudsen dismissed the proposal, arguing in a memorandum that it was “legally insufficient” and “logrolls multiple distinct political choices into a single initiative,” the Montana Free Press reported.

“Ballot Measure 14 creates an express right to abortion but denies voters the ability to express their views on the nuance of the right,” Knudsen wrote.

Knudsen also claimed that the proposal as written would prevent state lawmakers from imposing any restrictions on abortion if it’s deemed “medically necessary,” according to the Montana Free Press.

“This clause makes it so even regulations that serve a compelling state interest and are narrowly tailored to that interest cannot survive,” Knudsen wrote, the Montana Free Press reported.

In addition to prohibiting the government from making laws limiting abortion before “viability,” the ballot initiative would also prevent state officials from enacting any law that would ban abortions in cases deemed necessary to protect the life and health of the mother, according to the Montana Free Press. Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte signed a 15-week abortion ban into law in May 2023 that prohibited dilation and evacuation abortions, which typically take place after that point in the pregnancy.

Advocates of the proposal said that they were prepared to take “legal action” if necessary.

“In an attempt to keep an abortion rights initiative out of the hands of voters, Attorney General Austin Knudsen has used the power of his office to put personal politics before a fair process to allow Montanans the opportunity to secure their reproductive rights,” Attorney Raph Graybill told the Montana Free Press Wednesday evening. “Make no mistake: We will do everything we can, including taking legal action, to ensure Montanans have the opportunity to vote to secure their rights to make decisions about their own pregnancies, including the right to abortion care, in 2024.”

Knudsen’s office did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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Kate Anderson is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation.
Background Photo “Montana Capitol” by gillfoto. CC BY-SA 4.0.





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