In the 2021 Legislative Session, Republicans passed numerous anti-choice bills that erode our right to privacy, yet the most egregious bills have been blocked in court due to our state’s constitutional right to privacy. That is because a 1999 decision from the Montana Supreme Court cemented what we know to be true: Montanans’ Constitutional right to privacy is about much more than access to reproductive care. It secures our freedom as individuals to control the most intimate aspects of our private decision making: the right to make our own medical decisions, to love who we love, raise our children the way we want, and create our own families and futures free from government restrictions. The right to privacy is the very basis of what we value most in Montana: our personal freedom, our liberty, and our independence.When all of our surrounding states lose access to safe abortion, Montana will continue to provide reproductive care because our Constitutional right to privacy still stands. And yet, Republicans need to flip just two legislative seats in 2022 to get the votes needed to begin changing our Constitution and continue eroding our rights. The Montana Constitution and courts that defend it are the only thing between us and an erosion of our rights and the sanctity of autonomy — but all of that could change in the November elections.
Today, the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade and overturned half of a century of legal protection from the government interfering in our most personal and private decisions. As access to abortion becomes a state-by-state patchwork, we have work to do on behalf of Montanans who value the right to privacy, bodily autonomy, and the ability to make decisions for themselves.
The conversation about birth giving and how and when to have a family is a sacred and important one — one centered on life, change, and hope for the future. But these conversations deserve to happen with our loved ones, our families, and our doctors, not in the halls of government.
Instead, those of us in electoral politics should be working to ensure families across Montana have the ability and resources they need to raise healthy kids in safe homes. Our mandate, straight from the Montana Constitution is to work to “improve the quality of life, equality of opportunity and to secure the blessings of liberty for this and future generations.” Our work is to ensure Montanans have housing, childcare, healthcare, jobs that pay a living wage, and the promise of safety and security.
I ran for office because I wanted to do the work of investing in my community to create a future that works for all of us and focus on policies that make a difference for Montanans. And yet I am caught up with all of you in the throes of partisan politics and manipulation of government as an ideological weapon as we try to answer the question of who our bodies really belong to.
If the Supreme Court’s partisanship and congressional inaction are crushing, I urge you to ask yourself what it looks like to participate in the change you want to see here, at home. Deep change and long-term progress come from work that takes place at the community level.
Thank you to Alice Buckley for allowing us to share her widely published column from when the decision was first leaked.