NewsMontana Politics


Reaction to recent pro-life bills in Montana

Gianforte Abortion Bill Signing
Jessica Rae
Posted at 5:40 PM, Jun 02, 2023

GREAT FALLS — Governor Greg Gianforte signed nine pro-life, abortion bills during the month of May. Of these nine, the three most recent bills to be signed are House Bills 544, 862, and 937.

544 prohibits Medicaid abortion funding for medically necessary abortions; 862 prohibits Medicaid from funding abortions unless the result of rape or incest; and 937 would require the state to license and inspection abortion providers and their facilities.

The CEO of Planned Parenthood Montana, Martha Fuller, believes by restricting Medicaid access within abortion services, these bills all but ban abortion for those in the lower-class.

“The folks who are most impacted are the people who are least able to afford care in other ways, and are having a harder time accessing care,” says Fuller. “It is a compounded impact for those folks who both now would have to figure out how to pay for their care in addition to how they're actually going to get to their appointments.”

State Representative Scot Kerns believes the bills were drafted carefully, as to not outright ban abortions in Montana.

“In both of these bills, they provide for exemptions and I think these are key. The exemptions that are being provided for are for the instances of rape, incest and the life of the mother,” says Kerns.

Jessica Rae is a mother of three from Malta who underwent her own abortion procedure in 2014. For her the decision to follow through with the procedure was a difficult one but she believes she made the right choice for her children.

Jessica Rae

Rae was pregnant with twin boys, however, they were conjoined in utero. One baby was pulling the vital organs out of the other, and had a spine curved at 90 degrees. The high-risk pregnancy doctor said he had never seen this condition in over 35 years of experience.

Rae was told she would lose one twin in utero, and the other shortly after delivering. Devastated by the reality, Rae and her husband ultimately decided to undergo a dilation and evacuation procedure, which surgically removes the unborn babies.

“They say that that's dismemberment and causes the baby pain while me watching one of my sons pull out my other son's heart out of his chest. You have to believe that caused pain. And I just could not fathom watching my babies be tortured like that for six more months,” says Rae.

This procedure is now under threat of being banned due to another recently signed House Bill 721.

“People post things or write things about murder. You know, people like me being a murderer,” says Rae. “Both of those decisions to either go forward with the pregnancy or to terminate the pregnancy are both terrible decisions. They're terrible choices. But I had to make one, and I feel I made the best choice for my children.”

Jessica says if she can help validate just one woman who also underwent an abortion and feels scrutinized, she’ll have made a difference.

As for the recent House Bills, Planned Parenthood Montana has filed for injunctions to put a block on the bills from going into law. Fuller cites the right to privacy being essential for all Montanans.

Though Fuller believes these injunctions will help safety in healthcare, the legislators of the bills find the injunctions concerning.

“Even before a bill is signed into law, it going to the courts. That seems crazy to me,” says Kerns. “These pieces of legislation had been vetted and have the adequate exemptions in place to provide for help for all Montanans.”