HELENA - Akilah Deernose, staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Montana released the following statement regarding the House Judiciary Committee hearing HB 544 to place new restrictions on abortion services covered by Medicaid. 

"Montana’s Constitution provides some of the strongest protections in the Nation for privacy, reproductive rights, and equal protection. House Bill 544 only aims to chip away at the constitutionally protected right to abortion.

"Every person in Montana has a legal right to access abortion services no matter where they live, how much money they make, or who they are. Montana’s Constitution entitles Montanans to make the best medical decisions for themselves and their families in consultation with their trusted health care providers. HB 544, however, takes that choice away from people and would have costly results for both low-income patients and the State. Coercing people into carrying a pregnancy to term is not only more expensive than providing abortion care services, but has longer lasting financial costs and increased health risks to the pregnant person. 

"Simply put, HB 544 is a de-facto abortion ban for the most vulnerable of Montanans. It creates unjustifiable and unnecessary inequities and is illegal and unconstitutional."