Montana Teen Birth Control Coverage Ban Ruled Unconstitutional

Yesterday, District Judge James Reynolds ruled unconstitutional Montana’s ban on birth control coverage for teenage girls who are insured by the state’s low-income health insurance program for minors, Healthy Montana Kids. He concluded that the law “violates the right of privacy and the rights of persons not adults set forth in the Montana Constitution.”

In his ruling, Judge Reynolds said, “In this scheme, if you want to control your acne, your birth control is covered; if you want to avoid pregnancy and control your procreative autonomy, your birth control is not covered…This turns the idea of the fundamental right of privacy on its head.” He continued, “The point is this: because HMK provides payment for medical services associated with procreative autonomy, the individual privacy guaranteed in Montana’s constitution applies and the right operates to prohibit precisely the inquiry made by the contraception exclusion – unless the state can provide a narrowly tailored, compelling state interest judging this infringement,” reported the Missoulian.

Children whose families’ incomes are up 250% of the federal poverty level are eligible for insurance through Healthy Montana Kids. About 10 percent of the 25,000 children covered are females between the ages of 15 and 19. Though the program will not cover the drug for pregnancy prevention, teenage mothers receive coverage for prenatal and postnatal care, as well as delivery expenses. In 2009, the program spent $720,000 to cover the costs of 43 births to teenage mothers.

Media Resources: Missoulian 5/11/2012; Feminist Daily Newswire 11/2/2010

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