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Affordable housing shortages. Rising food and childcare costs. Protecting our state constitution. There are a number of pressing issues facing Montanans that our representatives could (and should) be addressing during the 68th Legislative Session, issues that we elected them to handle. Instead, we’re looking at a repeat of 2021 — when extremist lawmakers abused their positions of power and passed laws to insert government into our most personal and private decisions.
As it stands, there are more than 40 proposed bills pertaining to reproductive rights and the vast majority of those focus on barring access to care outright or otherwise threatening our right to safe, legal abortion. One draft, LC 771 by Rep. Lee Deming (R-Laurel), goes as far as proposing a total ban on abortion with no true exceptions, even for survivors of rape or incest. And what we know, both from 2021 legislation here in Montana and proposed policies in other states, is that attacks like these don’t stop at criminalizing abortion but also target contraception, in vitro fertilization, and gender-affirming care.
No doubt about it, the months ahead will be difficult as Montanans watch legislators try to chisel away at our constitutionally protected right to privacy. But as activists, leaders, and supporters of the reproductive rights movement in Montana, we are not deterred.
Our community is united against attacks on our bodily autonomy, sexual and reproductive health, and personal medical decisions. Over the course of the session and beyond we will be pushing back on harmful bills and backward politics — and pushing ahead on opportunities to ensure equitable access to the full spectrum of sexual and reproductive health care. Elected officials can expect to hear from Montanans across the state as we remind them that they work on behalf of their constituents, not extremist out-of-state organizations pushing model legislation. We won’t stand idly by while our rights are put on the chopping block for the sake of cheap political points. We will be there every step of the way to remind legislators, the Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS), and the Governor’s office that Montanans deserve and demand access to quality health care, including sexual and reproductive care. We must be able to make our most private medical decisions without their interference.
Montanans face a number of challenges in this new year. Access to quality care for our reproductive and sexual health should not be one of them. We urge Montanans to stay plugged in to what happens in Helena over these next few months, and to make a habit of calling their legislators about defeating dangerous anti-abortion bills while supporting those that uphold and expand our rights.
ACLU of Montana
All Families Healthcare
Blue Mountain Clinic
Montana Human Rights Network
Montana Racial Equity Project
Montanans for Choice
Planned Parenthood Advocates of Montana
Reproductive Health Access Project - Montana Chapter
Susan Wicklund Fund
UM Gender Equity Resource Center