On May 12th, Governor Schweitzer signed the state budget bill, House Bill 2 (HB 2). As with any government budget, depending on whom you talk to, HB 2 is either considered a substantial victory against right-wing forces or a loss to critical programs. To be truthful, it appears that family planning was significantly cut at a time when our patients and communities are struggling the most.
While we are trying to look on the bright side and appreciate that Title X Family Planning federal funding was restored, we are still struggling to manage the impact of a 26% cut to the programs that provide reproductive healthcare to low-income men and women. This cut is the result of state general funds being eliminated from the state budget by the Republican majority in the early days of the legislative session – funding that never made it back into the budget.
Across the state, all family planning programs — not just Planned Parenthood — will be struggling in the coming months to keep clinic doors open. We suspect that clinic closures may be a reality, but that information is not yet available. We also remain hopeful that the Schweitzer administration and DPHHS may be successful at finally implementing a critical program to improve access to family planning – a program that can’t come soon enough now.
The budget was a tough battle this year and we’ve struggled as an organization to help folks understand that being pro-choice means many things. We need not only the advocates who prevent abortion restrictions and barriers to care, but we also need a dedication to prevention and access to healthcare, particularly for the poor. At its core family planning is the right for men and women to plan or prevent a pregnancy – the very foundation of being pro-choice.
We hope you will all join us in thanking local Democratic legislators (FIND YOUR LEGISLATOR HERE: http://leg.mt.gov/css/find%20a%20legislator.asp) and Governor Schweitzer (firstname.lastname@example.org) for their efforts to defeat the “war on women” being waged by the Republican party and to strongly encourage a commitment to prevention and access to basic healthcare for women.
P.S. One final update from the Governor’s desk…
LAST WEEK, Governor Schweitzer vetoed the remaining two anti-choice bills passed by the GOP dominated Legislature. With these two vetoes, Governor Schweitzer finished up the session with a strong showing of support for our constitutional rights and reproductive healthcare for all Montanans.
THIS SESSION, Governor Schweitzer vetoed every anti-choice bill that reached his desk, and we want to thank him one more time for his support! Below are the details on the last two, and please take a moment to contact the Governor’s office (email@example.com) to thank him for standing up for Montana women and families…
HB 167 – Criminalize offense involving death to an unborn child, Rep. Keith Regier (R-Kalispell)
Would amend Montana’s criminal code to include homicide and assault acts against and “unborn child.” These crimes would be separate and distinct from acts of violence committed against pregnant women, and creates tension with women’s rights to privacy as established in the Montana Constitution. This bill also defines life to begin at conception. Passed the House, Senate, and VETOED BY THE GOVERNOR. A “no” vote is the pro-choice position.
SB 97 – Judicial Bypass for Parental Notification of Abortion, Sen. Jim Shockley (R-Victor)
Requires a minor accessing abortion care to request judicial bypass if they cannot inform a parent or legal guardian of their decision. This bill is still unconstitutional as it does not differ in substance from the parental notification law that was permanently enjoined by the 1st District Court in 1999. Passed the Senate, House, and VETOED BY THE GOVERNOR. A “no” vote is the pro-choice position.
UNFORTUNATELY, SB 97 was duplicated in a referendum request, HB 627, which passed the legislature in the final days of the session.
WE KNOW that the Republican anti-choice majority passed HB 627 so that no matter what happened to SB 97, they could expose the health and safety of minors to the whims of the electorate.
MAKE NO MISTAKE, HB 627 WILL BE ON THE BALLOT IN 2012, and anti-choice activists will be hard at work over the next year to pass the referendum and jeopardize the safety of Montana’s young women.
THAT MEANS WE NEED TO FIGHT BACK! Please stay engaged, and please stay tuned for opportunities to help in your community!