Supreme Court of Montana Rules Nurses Can Continues To Still Help Carry Out Abortions

The Supreme Court of Montana has decided that the state cannot prohibit advanced practice registered nurses from carrying out abortions. The court's judgment, which was reached by a majority vote and handed down on Friday, agreed with two nurses who had filed a lawsuit against a state statute that stated only physicians and physician assistants are allowed to conduct abortions.

The highest level of practice Advanced Practice Registered Nurses, often known as APRNs, are registered nurses who have obtained further training, including at least a master's degree. The plaintiffs stated that they have the potential to be completely medically qualified to execute abortions in a safe manner, and that the state does not have a valid cause to ban them from this practice.

In an opinion that was penned by Justice Laurie McKinnon, the court stated that the Montana Constitution "guarantees a woman a fundamental right of privacy to seek abortion care from a qualified health care provider of her choosing, absent a clear demonstration of a medically acknowledged, bona fide health risk." This was in reference to the absence of a clear evidence of a medically acknowledged, bona fide health risk. They stated that there was "overwhelming evidence presented to the District Court that abortion care is one of the safest forms of medical care in this country and around the world, and that APRNs are qualified providers." This statement was made in reference to the fact that APRNs are qualified medical professionals.

The judgment went on to say that "The State has failed to present any evidence that demonstrates abortions performed by APRNs include more risk than those provided by physicians or PAs." "The State has failed to identify any reason why APRNs should be restricted from providing abortions," and "the State has failed to articulate a medically acknowledged, bona fide health risk," respectively.

The opinion of the court highlighted a ruling from 1999 that is generally known as the Armstrong decision. That ruling established that the state constitution's right to privacy safeguarded access to abortion before a fetus is viable. In the Armstrong case, the judges overturned a legislation that prohibited medical assistants from providing abortions by using similar legal arguments. After that, the legislature of Montana made changes to that statute, resulting in the current version that is in question.

The Office of the Attorney General in Montana contended that the state statute was a legitimate rule that was meant to lessen the dangers to health and safety that were associated with abortions. They stated that if the law were not in place, it would be far too simple for an APRN who lacked the required skills to begin providing abortion services.

Emilee Cantrell, a spokesperson for the Montana Department of Justice, said in a statement that the state Supreme Court has become "disgracefully radicalized" and "out of touch with Montanans." "This case was not about the right to abortion – it was about whether women have a right to an elevated standard of care during an abortion." "This case was not about the right to abortion." The Supreme Court of Montana issued a 'no' decision and decreased the standard of care that had been established by the Legislature. As a result, the court effectively constitutionalized the right of unqualified individuals to perform abortions without being regulated. This ruling is a setback for women in Montana, who will now be at a greater risk due to the actions of the state Supreme Court.

Both the Attorney General Austin Knudsen and Governor Greg Gianforte have argued that the decision in the Armstrong case was incorrect and have requested the Supreme Court to overturn its precedent in the matter.

Whitefish is home to the medical facility known as All Families Healthcare, which is run by Helen Weems, one of the APRNs who initiated this legal action. Since 2019, Weems has been in a position to perform abortions as a result of the Montana Supreme Court's decision to allow a preliminary injunction against a state legislation to continue being in effect. According to the documents filed with the court, the other APRN goes by the name Jane Doe.

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