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Tipsheet

Planned Parenthood Clinics in Montana Limit Abortion Pill Access

AP Photo/Chris Neibergall

Several Planned Parenthood abortion clinics in Montana are preemptively restricting access to medication abortion pills from out-of-state patients. 

This move comes after the United States Supreme Court struck down landmark abortion case Roe v. Wade and sent the issue of abortion back to the states. The four states bordering Montana have “trigger” laws in effect or pending that protect the unborn. As a result, three of the four Planned Parenthood clinics in Montana have limited who can receive abortion pills to avoid criminal charges and lawsuits.

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Officials from Planned Parenthood of Montana, who operate three of the four clinics not providing abortion pills to out-of-state patients, shared the news with NPR

Kim Floren, the director of pro-abortion organization Justice Through Empowerment Network, a South Dakota-based abortion fund, told NPR that Montana “was a state that we were hoping was going to be available.”

Floren added that “at this point, it’s just more bad news on top of more bad news.”

Medication abortions come in a two-part regimen. The first pill, mifepristone, is taken to stop the pregnancy from developing. The second pill, misoprostol, is taken to expel the pregnancy from the woman’s body. Townhall covered how telemedicine abortion pill startups came onto the scene to “fill the void” in the event of a Roe overturn.

In addition, Townhall reported that a study conducted by the pro-abortion, former Planned Parenthood-affiliated Guttmacher Institute found that medication abortions now account for the majority of abortions. In England and Wales, the overwhelming majority of abortions are carried out at home through this method.

NPR added that the decision to preemptively not provide medication abortion pills to out-of-state patients was fueled by a “shifting legal landscape” when it comes to abortion.

The Planned Parenthood policy change in Montana is a response to the shifting legal landscape, said Jennifer Sandman, senior director of public policy litigation and law for Planned Parenthood's national organization. "People are acting under conditions of extraordinary chaos and fear that has been instilled by where the Supreme Court has left us and by threats by anti-abortion politicians in some states," Sandman said.

Planned Parenthood of Montana decided June 30 not to provide abortion pills at their clinics in Billings, Great Falls and Helena to patients from states where trigger laws have gone into effect. At the time, bans were in place in South Dakota, Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma, but Planned Parenthood officials said they see a significant number of patients from South Dakota. The officials did not respond when asked how many South Dakota patients would likely be affected.

Montana's other neighbors — Idaho, Wyoming and North Dakota — also have trigger laws, but they have not yet gone into effect.

The president of Planned Parenthood of Montana, Martha Fuller, wrote in an internal memo that the risks of cross-state provision of services were unclear, citing concerns about the potential for civil and criminal action against those providing medicine that would end a pregnancy to people from states with bans in effect. The memo was posted on Twitter by a freelance journalist and later deleted. Planned Parenthood officials confirmed the policy change.

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The three Planned Parenthood abortion clinics will still provide surgical abortions for out-of-state patients. Planned Parenthood’s decision comes after Blue Mountain Clinic, a standalone abortion clinic in Missoula, announced it would only provide medication abortion pills to patients with a Montana address. 

Townhall covered in December how President Biden’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that the two-part abortion pill regimen will be available to women without an in-person visit with a doctor. 

In addition, after Roe fell, Biden’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) unveiled a new government website, ReproductiveRights.gov, that directs patients to AbortionFinder.org, a resources targeted at women of all ages, including 15 and younger, to obtain an abortion. For minors, the website directs them to Repro Legal Helpline, a website intended to help minors obtain a judicial bypass to get an abortion without parental consent. The website directs minors to get their abortions covered by National Network of Abortion Funds.

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