The Montana Reproductive Rights Coalition stands with Gov. Steve Bullock, and here’s why: Despite the tidal wave of anti-women legislation introduced, and in the face of out-of-touch politics, Bullock stood up and proved himself to be a true ally for Montana women and families.
At the outset of the 2013 Montana Legislature, it appeared that women would once again be thrown under the bus. Mirroring a national trend, Montana’s legislative session saw the introduction of an unprecedented number of anti-women, anti-family, and anti-health care access proposals, including a record-setting number of referenda attacking women’s health. The assaults ranged from cutting vital prevention programs to prohibiting public schools from teaching reproductive health education and infringing on the basic right of every Montanan to make private, medical decisions. In short, at the beginning of the 63rd Montana Legislature, women and families had reason to be scared.
Bullock’s leadership made the difference between protecting reproductive health care access and surrendering the rights, programs and advocacy that ensures every Montanan’s ability to make their own choices about health care. Women and families came out on top. Proven prevention trumped partisan politics, and family planning funding – funding that ensures 26,000 Montanans each year can access life-saving prevention care – was restored to our state budget.
Because of the governor’s veto, House Bill 239, a terrible proposal that would have kicked Planned Parenthood and other pro-choice educators out of public schools and prevented local school districts from providing Montana youth with comprehensive, age-appropriate sex education, will never see the light of day.
And because of his foresight, Montana women, families and health care providers will get their day in court against a dangerous parental consent proposal without delay. House Bill 391, which requires minors younger than 18 to obtain notarized consent from a parent prior to receiving abortion services, is blatantly unconstitutional. A less onerous version of this same law has already been found unconstitutional by Montana courts; this one will meet the same fate.
Research and common sense shows us these dangerous measures don’t make families safer and are detrimental to the safety of young women. That’s why medical experts, organizations and providers in Montana and across the country, including the Montana Reproductive Rights Coalition, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the American Medical Women’s Association, the American Public Health Association and the Society of Adolescent Medicine, among others, all oppose parental consent laws. Based on this evidence, we know the courts will throw out the law as quickly and efficiently as possible.
This session, Bullock has shown Montanans that he knows what is important for Montana families. His actions have supported Montanans and their basic rights. We know that as long as out-of-touch politicians continue to push an agenda that harms, rather than helps, Montana families, we can count on Bullock to make sound decisions that protect the rights of Montana women and promote healthy families.
Stacey Anderson is director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood of Montana, and writes on behalf of the Montana Reproductive Rights Coalition.