April 5, 2011
For Immediate Release
Governor Vetoes First Abortion-related Bill
(Helena, MT) – On Monday, Governor Schweitzer vetoed the first of several unconstitutional bills related to abortion. SB 176 sought to ban insurance providers from offering abortion coverage under any healthcare exchange established in Montana.
The Governor, in his official letter explaining the veto action, wrote that “…SB 176 infringes upon the right of privacy and a woman's right to access reproductive health care found in the Montana Constitution, and for this reason is unconstitutional.” He further writes "... that Montana case law could not be clearer. Under [Armstrong v. State], I have been advised that SB 176 is unconstitutional. It would be a waste of taxpayer's money and the State's resources to sign a bill that is unconstitutional and subject the State and other parties to unnecessary litigation. It is for this reason that I have chosen to veto S8 176.”
Planned Parenthood of Montana, as an active opponent, believes that SB 176 would have made it virtually impossible for women to obtain insurance coverage for abortion in the new health-care system, even if they paid for their insurance entirely with their own funds. Currently, nearly 90 percent of private insurance plans offer coverage for abortion care. SB 176 mandated what private insurance plans couldn’t cover, thereby interfering with not only private business decisions but also a woman’s ability to purchase insurance coverage that was appropriate for her and her family.
SB 176 was a punitive bill that politicized women’s healthcare needs unnecessarily. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act explicitly applies the Hyde amendment to all funds appropriated under the health-care law and forbids any taxpayer funding of abortion services that fall outside of the Hyde amendment’s exceptions for cases of rape, incest, and life endangerment.
“We want to thank Governor Schweitzer for vetoing SB 176,” states Stacy James, CEO and President of Planned Parenthood of Montana. “Standing up for the women and families of Montana is deeply appreciated as we move forward to greater healthcare access and coverage, not less.”