The past few years have seen unprecedented assaults on women's reproductive freedom.
In states across the country, including Montana, abortion restrictions are becoming law at an alarming rate. According to the Guttmacher Institute, more abortion restrictions have been enacted in the past three years than in the entire decade before.
In 2013 alone, 39 states enacted 141 provisions related to reproductive health and rights. Half of these new provisions, 70 in 22 states, sought to restrict access to abortion services.
The worst two -- North Dakota and Texas -- together enacted 13 restrictions in 2013. And the attack continues in 2014 in Texas. On Monday, a panel of judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit considered the package of harsh anti-abortion restrictions enacted in Texas over the summer. When lawyers for the Center for Reproductive Rights argued that the new law forced many women to make a 300-mile round-trip to obtain an abortion (increased to 600 miles considering the state's ultrasound, counseling and 24-hour waiting period requirements), Judge Edith Jones replied. “Do you know how long that takes in Texas at 75 miles an hour?” adding “This is a peculiarly flat and not congested highway.”
2013 wasn't a good year in Montana, either. While it doesn't make the Guttmacher Institute's list of states hostile to abortion, reproductive freedom is constantly under attack in the Montana Legislature. In 2013 a bill to mandate parental consent for a minor to obtain an abortion (HB 391) was also introduced as a ballot measure (HB 521) in an attempt to circumvent the Governor’s veto authority.
In that case, the ACLU and other members of the Montana Reproductive Rights Coalition asked Governor Steve Bullock to allow the parental consent bill to become law without his signature, rather than vetoing it. Rather than running both a referendum campaign against the bill and a legal challenge, the ACLU and other opponents decided it would be better to challenge the law in court and resolve the issue as quickly as possible.
Planned Parenthood is challenging both the 2012 parental notice ballot measure that has been in effect since January 1, 2013 and the new 2013 law that would require all Montana minors to obtain notarized parental consent.
Many of the laws being passed across the country don't directly outlaw or limit abortion, but place impossible requirement on abortion clinics and force women trying to seek abortions to jump through more and more hoops.
The end result though, is the same. We aren't stupid.
Whether it be in Montana or any other state, the ACLU will defend women's reproductive freedom.