Representatives for Planned Parenthood of Montana said a legislative referendum on the November ballots that restricts abortion for minors could put teenage girls in danger.
LR-120 requires parental notification at least 48 hours before an abortion procedure can be performed on females under 16-years-old.
The referendum includes exceptions if a medical emergency requires the abortion, or if youth court waives parental notification in a sealed hearing.
If it’s passed, doctors and clinics that violate the law could face criminal charges.
Stacey Anderson, spokesperson for Planned Parenthood of Montana, said her organization supports parental involvement in a teenager’s decision to get an abortion.
"We really feel that, while most Montana parents are doing a good job talking to their teens, there's a couple of teens every year where this would really put them in harm's way,” said Anderson. "Young people come from abusive homes, sometimes a family member is involved in abuse, and LR-120 says we have to talk to the parent first, before we talk to the teen and possibly involve law enforcement."
State Representative Champ Edmunds, who’s seeking re-election this November to House District 100 in Missoula, voted to put LR-120 on the ballot. He said the clause in the referendum that allows youth court to waive parental notification would protect girls in danger.
"The judge can supersede this, and allow them to go get that procedure on their own in cases where there’s danger to the child from the parent,” said Edmunds. "We have schools that require parental notification to give them a Tylenol, but we don't have parental notification to have a major procedure done. To me that just doesn't make sense."
If passed, the referendum will take effect January 1, 2013.
A similar referendum passed in 1999, and was then struck down by the courts. Anderson said she expects to see a new lawsuit filed if LR-120 passes in November.
To read the full text of LR-120, click here.