Montana Legislature Update – Feb. 22, 2021

Access to the complete range of reproductive health services for women is contentious in our society, and several bills to curtail options are moving through the Montana legislature.  We hear conservative positions as if they are the only Christian way.  The United Methodist Social Principles document shows a more nuanced stance.

The statement on reproductive health begins with supporting comprehensive, age-appropriate education for sexual health, as well as access to consistent, effective, and affordable contraception. Because of the dangers and risks involved in childbearing, it affirms women and girls should have consistent access to gynecological care. Commitment to the sanctity of human life creates reluctance to condone abortion. The statement opposes late-term or partial-birth abortion, except when the life of the mother is in danger, no other medical treatments are feasible, or when severe abnormalities threaten the viability of the fetus. It recognizes that tragic conflicts of life with life may justify decisions to terminate the life of a fetus. In these limited circumstances, it supports the legal option of abortion and insists that such procedures be performed by trained medical providers in clean and safe settings.

To read the full statement on this and other topics such as stewardship of creation, the family, marriage, divorce, racism, gender equality and diversity, and the death penalty, go to

https://umcsocialprinciples2021.org/.  Christians may not agree on these topics, but the Social Principles might help individuals decide where they stand.

Four bills regarding reproductive health have passed the House and are now headed to the Senate floor for consideration:

1) HB136 broadly restricts abortions after 20 weeks

2) HB140 requires offering an ultrasound before an abortion

3) HB 167 is a referendum to require all action be taken to save the life of a fetus born through abortion (opponents say infanticide is already illegal)

4) HB171 prohibits medication abortion by telehealth and requires the patient to pick up the medication in person.

Two newer bills:

1) HB 229 prevents insurance policies obtained through the Affordable Care Act exchange from covering abortion, to be heard in the (S) Judiciary Committee

2) HB 337 gives a fertilized egg constitutional rights in order to ban abortion and possibly birth control, heading for the House floor.

Bills on other topics:

1) HB 427, almost identical to HB 113 which was defeated in the House, denies gender-affirming health care to trans youth, hearing in the (H) Judiciary Committee on Monday, Feb. 22

2) HB 121 requires elected officials approval of local health board and officer actions, hearing in (H) Business and Labor Committee on Monday, Feb. 22

3) HB 176 eliminates same-day voter registration and ends late voter registration at noon the day before Election Day, in (H) State Administration Committee.

4) HB 279 features a whopping increase from $150 to $200,000 in the allowable tax credit for donations to private and for-profit schools for individuals and corporations at the expense of funds available for public schools, in the (H) Education Committee.

5) SB 215, called the religious freedom restoration act, could allow the use of religion as an excuse to discriminate against and harm others, passed (S) Judiciary and headed to Senate floor.

6) SB 146 and SB 94 establish Indigenous People’s Day statewide.

7) HB 259 prohibits Inclusionary Zoning in Montana cities and towns (set aside a percentage of homes in a subdivision as affordable), one of several tools Bozeman uses to increase affordable housing in the local area.

For updates on other bills, we urge you to go to www.gallatinvalleymethodists.com.

If a bill is still in a committee:

1) call 406-444-4800 and leave a message for the whole committee or individual legislators

OR 2) go to https://leg.mt.gov/ and send a message on the web.  Say whether you want them to vote yes or no and a sentence or two about why. It doesn’t have to be long.

OR 3) sign up on the website to give testimony.

If the bill has passed committee and is in either the House of Representatives or the Senate, use the same phone number or website to contact your representative or senator as appropriate.

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