Helena, Mont. – Today a state district court granted a preliminary injunction barring the state from criminally prosecuting advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) who provide safe abortion care. As a result, plaintiff Helen Weems and Jane Doe can provide abortion services without fear of prosecution while the outcome of the case is pending.
The request for the injunction is part of a case brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) and ACLU of Montana (ACLU-MT). The lawsuit challenges an outdated and unconstitutional law that puts APRNs at risk of felony criminal charges for safely providing abortion care. Currently, Montana law allows only physicians and physician assistants to provide abortion services.
“The court recognized that Montana law places unnecessary, unfounded, and arbitrary barriers to Montanans’ access to abortion care. Currently, only 4 of Montana’s 56 counties have an abortion provider,” said Caitlin Borgmann, ACLU of Montana’s Executive Director. “Allowing APRNs to perform these services as the case is pending will ensure Montanans have the quality healthcare they need.”
With the decision, the court recognized that blocking APRNs from providing abortion care unjustly denies competent clinicians from pursuing medical training and providing health care for which they are qualified.
“Helen Weems and Jane Doe are qualified and highly competent healthcare providers,” said Hillary Schneller, Center for Reproductive Rights Staff Attorney. “With this injunction in place, they can now pursue training and provide safe abortion care without the threat of prosecution. The court’s decision also affirms that the state has no legitimate reasons for allowing only physicians and physician assistants to provide abortion services.”
The court’s ruling is consistent with the findings of leading medical and public health authorities such as the World Health Organization, the Food and Drug Administration, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. These experts uniformly agree that APRNs can provide abortions as safely as physicians.
The Center for Reproductive Rights Hillary Schneller (Staff Attorney) and ACLU of Montana’s Caitlin Borgmann (Executive Director) and Alex Rate (Legal Director) are available for interview.