On Monday, Governor Greg Gianforte of Montana signed three bills aimed at restricting abortion access.
The first bill requires health care providers to offer pregnant people the opportunity to view an ultrasound before providing an abortion. The second creates restrictions for medication abortion, including outlawing the use of telemedicine for administration of the necessary pills. The third bill bans abortion after 20 weeks.
The anti-abortion lawmakers who voted to pass the bill used the guise of “public health”, arguing that these bills protect pregnant people. Activists assert that the laws violate the constitutional right to abortion, as well as conflict with the relationship between abortion patients and their providers.
This law will directly and disproportionately harm the most marginalized communities in Montana, particularly rural, low-income, and Native residents. Montana has seven abortion clinics, five of which are operated by Planned Parenthood.
Executive director of the ACLU of Montana, Caitlin Borgmann, stated in January that these bills are an strategic step toward making abortion completely unavailable. “These bills represent the worst kind of government overreach — placing the government between patients and the medical care they deserve,” Borgmann said.
Martha Stahl, CEO and president of Planned Parenthood of Montana, stated that passing these bills together heightens the harm of each. “Looking at those together, I think the impact is sort of multiplied, right,” Stahl said. “Because if you’re making it harder for folks to have abortion earlier in pregnancy, and then you’re making it harder on that same group of people who maybe can’t travel, you know, who have other family obligations, et cetera, those are the folks who are really getting impacted by this legislation together.”
Sources: AP News 4/26/21; CNN 4/27/21