Mont. Parental Consent Bill Becomes Law After Gov. Declines To Act on It

April 26, 2013 —Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) on Thursday allowed legislation (HB 391) requiring minors to obtain parental consent before abortions to become law without his signature, the AP/Montana Standard reports.

According to the AP/Standard, Bullock's decision to not act on the bill was a strategic move in that he and women's health advocates believe the law will be struck down in court. Additionally, by allowing HB 391 to become law, the governor killed a companion referendum (HB 521) that would have gone before voters in 2014.

Bullock worked with a coalition of reproductive rights groups to develop the strategy to kill both measures. They have argued that the parental consent requirement violates minors' privacy and protection rights.

Sara Rossi of the Montana Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence said the legislation ignores the need to protect young women who are in abusive situations. "No one thinks about the minority in these situations, they think about the majority, which is healthy families who have open communication," she said.

Court Challenge Likely

Montana in 1995 passed a similar law that was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. However, the state Justice Department dropped efforts to defend the law after the Montana Supreme Court in another case affirmed protections for abortion and privacy rights in the state constitution, according to the AP/Standard.

Planned Parenthood has offered to lead a lawsuit challenging the new statute.

State Rep. Jerry Bennett (R), the sponsor of HB 391, said he anticipated the governor's move. Bennett expressed confidence that the measure is constitutional (AP/Montana Standard, 4/25).