Media Contact

Laura Terrill, Planned Parenthood of Montana, 971.322.8640
Nik Griffith, NARAL Pro-Choice Montana, 406.868.3602
May 9, 2017
HELENA, MONTANA – Governor Steve Bullock vetoed two extreme and dangerous bills attacking women’s reproductive health. These bills would have prevented Montana women from accessing safe and legal reproductive health care, allowed politicians to interfere with the patient-doctor relationship, and criminalized physicians. These bills are blatant government overreach into the private lives of Montanans.
The Montana Reproductive Rights Coalition thanked Governor Bullock and pro-women’s health legislators for sending a clear message that efforts to infringe on Montanans’ ability to make private medical decisions about abortion are unacceptable and out of touch with Montana values.

Coalition members share the following reactions

“Proponents of these bills were fully aware of their constitutional infirmities, but their goal was not to protect women’s safety, or to pass laws that respect women’s autonomy. The bills demonstrated supporters’ desire to pass anything that will make progress toward the ultimate goal of eliminating a woman’s right to determine the course of her own pregnancy.”  Caitlin Borgmann, Executive Director, ACLU of Montana

“These bills would have had a devastating impact on women and families and the physicians who provide them care. Our patients don’t come to us to make a political statement; they come to us to receive the high-quality, non-judgmental care they need and deserve. We are grateful to pro-women’s health care legislators and Governor Bullock for standing with women by protecting access to the full range of reproductive health care options in Montana. Our patients deserve nothing less and they
delivered.” Martha Stahl, President & CEO, Planned Parenthood of Montana
“Both SB 282 and SB 329 would have undermined medical decision-making abilities for pregnant women and health care providers, which often must be done quickly and under terrific stress. For clients served by MCADSV members, these decisions must be made in the interest of the woman’s safety if she has an abusive partner. Further, these bills provide no ability for survivors of rape and incest to have an abortion in the wake of their traumatic victimization. Like all other women, domestic violence and sexual assault survivors should have the opportunity to choose for themselves discreet medical care without legislative interference. Thank you to Governor Bullock for vetoing these bills.” Kelsen Young, Executive Director, Montana Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence

Any effort by politicians to come between a patient and their doctor is dangerous and wrong.

“Harmful political ideology has no place in the decision-making between a women and her physician as to what is best for her life, health, family, and well-being.” Jules Shindel, Organizing Director, Montana Human Rights Network
“As a family medicine, primary care office we are grateful that Governor Bullock works hard to protect the rights of all families and women facing choices around any part of their medical health. Our entire team works diligently to help every patient make choice-based, patient centered, medically sound decisions without interference from government restrictions. We hope the Montana legislature continues to listen to all Montana citizens who request respect in their abilities to make
their own medical decisions.” Joey Banks MD, Blue Mountain Clinic
“The importance of holding politicians who put lives at risk accountable can not be understated. 7 in 10 Americans support Roe v. Wade, including Montanans. Having Governor Bullock and our allies stand against these/this extreme measures sends the message to anyone seeking to endanger Montana’s women and families for purely political gain that these gross violations are not Montana values, now or ever.” Nik Griffith, interim Executive Director for NARAL Pro-Choice Montana

Background on SB 282

  • SB 282 is a ban on abortion based on arbitrary determinations and is a blatant attempt to deny women their constitutional rights to make private medical decisions. The Montana Supreme court has held time and again that the right to privacy contained in the Montana Constitution includes a woman’s right to reproductive autonomy.
  • SB 282 is dangerous for women and limits their ability to make decisions about their own health and life. This bill bans safe abortion methods without allowing for exceptions where a woman has been raped or is a victim of incest, forcing women to continue to suffer without cause. The bill also bans abortion in cases of life threatening genetic anomalies or when the life or health of the woman is in jeopardy.
  • SB 282 fundamentally changes the practice of medicine forcing physicians to potentially put patients’ health at significant risk, regardless of the woman’s unique circumstances. This bill undermines trained health care experts’ ability to provide the best possible healthcare, using their professional expertise. SB 282 forces women to undergo invasive procedures without regard to the woman’s health or safety, putting both Montana women and Montana’s physicians at risk.
  • All pregnancies are different, and SB 282 law interferes in the doctor-patient relationship, which has always been and should remain a private relationship. The sanctity of this relationship is a cornerstone of medical care in Montana. Women and their doctors must have the ability to make medical decisions together, without government intervention. SB 282 attempts to prescribe doctor-patient relationships through political ideology. Any effort by politicians to come between a patient and their doctor is dangerous and wrong.

Background on SB 329

  • SB 329 is an unconstitutional ban on abortion after 20 weeks of gestation. It is not, in fact, intended to end the “pain and suffering” of a fetus. It is instead an attempt to establish a new legal framework for banning abortion in Montana. The bill allows civil litigation to proceed against a medical provider, and by extension, a woman, if an abortion is performed. SB 329 threatens the personal safety of women, invades women’s privacy, and criminalizes the medical profession.
  • SB 329 is an attempt to build a foundation to ban abortion by establishing the state’s compelling interest in any pregnancy. Although it is couched in a healthcare frame, this bill is another politicization of safe, legal abortion. The provisions of SB 329 alter the delivery of healthcare in a manner that is detrimental to the practice of medicine, providers, and patients.
  • SB 329 provides no exception that would allow an abortion in circumstances of rape or incest.
  • SB 329 threatens a physician with a felony for performing an abortion. The bill puts physicians in the impossible situation of deciding between the health and wellbeing of a patient or jail time. In an emergency situation, medical professionals should be focused on providing the best care possible, not worrying if their actions will put them in jail.
  • SB 329 allows doctors to be sued for performing abortions. The spouse, parents or guardians of a minor, a prosecuting attorney, or even the Attorney General can take civil action. This fundamentally undermines patient autonomy and the privacy of the patient-doctor relationship.
  • SB 329 seriously jeopardizes the safety of women by letting a court decide whether or not to keep their identity private. If legal action is taken, a court gets to determine whether or not the name of the woman will remain private. This public disclosure could jeopardize the safety of domestic violence victims or other individuals fleeing violence.
  • SB 329 interferes with safe, evidence-based practice of medicine, putting government in the role of physician. No respected medical organization supports this kind of interference. Government has no place dictating how a physician practices or mandating specific treatments for patients.