Elections do matter. Just look at Montana

By Dave Andrusko

As the last post of the day, let’s look briefly at “After Nearly a Decade, Montana Lurches Right on Abortion,” by Garnet Henderson. The subhead to this post at the pro-abortion rewire news group speaks volume: “For the last 16 years, Montana had Democratic governors, who would veto abortion restrictions. With Greg Gianforte as governor, the state has now been enacting abortion restrictions not seen in around ten years.”

And 2021 was indeed a banner year with passage of four pro-life measures.

House Bill 136—the Montana Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act–bans abortions performed on pain-capable unborn children who are 20 weeks gestational age. House Bill 140 offers the opportunity for abortion-minded women to view an ultrasound of their unborn child.

House Bill 171is an omnibus measure which requires women undergoing chemical (or “medication”) abortions to first have an in-person visit. The abortionist must be credentialed in handing complications and risk management. In addition, the abortionist would be required to inform the woman that if she changes her mind after taking the first of two drugs, she may be able to save her baby.

In addition H.B. 229 prohibits any insurance plan that provides coverage for abortion from being offered on the Affordable Care Act exchange.

Per usual, all but the insurance provision were enjoined, this time by District Judge Michael Moses who wrote “(Planned Parenthood) and their patients will be irreparably harmed through the loss of their constitutional rights, thus the prevention of the status quo is necessary to prevent that harm.”

Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen is appealing Judge Moses’ ruling.

So, according to Henderson, “what is driving this rightward turn in Montana?”

The biggest change was the election of Gianforte, a Republican, in 2020. For the previous 16 years, Montana had Democratic governors.

“They would pass abortion restrictions in the legislature almost every year,” Martha Stahl said. “But the governor would always veto them. We used to talk about the governor as the goalie.”

One other important point. Stahl, Planned Parenthood of Montana President and CEO, told Henderson

“We also have a very strong constitutional right to privacy, and case law has applied that right to privacy to the right to have an abortion,” Stahl said. On this basis, Montana courts have invalidated abortion restrictions including a parental notification requirement for minors, a 24-hour waiting period, biased state-mandated counseling, and a physician-only law.

However, the Montana Supreme Court is elected. “For now we are in a good position,” Stahl said. “But elections matter.”