The Montana Governor’s race is in full swing and, with PPAMT pink shirts in the audience and the crowd stickered in support of women’s health, we waited with bated breath for the question that, more than anything else (for us anyway), defines candidates today: should women get to make their own healthcare decisions?
The question came about 2/3 of the way into the debate and was directed first to former Congressman Rick Hill. Without hesitation or equivocation, Hill got down to business by listing first his study of the issue (as a man) and numerous moral positions (held by those churches exclusively governed by men) who helped inform his “prolife” stance in every circumstance. He then went one step further and equated taking an “aspirin” as a minor girl to being pregnant as a minor girl. Last time I checked, (as a woman and mother) I can state this with complete clarity: Taking an aspirin? Does not remotely compare to being pregnant and deciding whether or not to become a mother.
Attorney General Steve Bullock, on the other hand, gave a strong and equally unequivocal statement that decisions about women’s healthcare should be left to women and the people in their lives that they trust. Bullock cites our state’s constitutional right of privacy as a cherished Montana principle and states that “…we ought be doing more to promote women’s health, not making this a perennial issue and attacking it.” With regard to LR 120, Bullock’s position about minor’s access to confidential counseling and care was nuanced and compassionate. As a father, Bullock hopes and prays that young women “have the support of their families” with regard to any decision about an unplanned pregnancy, but as the Attorney General he knows firsthand that not all girls come from safe homes and wants to know that “… those young women are protected and should be able to get healthcare.”
These two candidates could not be more different on this issue. Former Congressman Hill opposes access to safe and legal abortion, in all circumstances, and would make this decision for every Montana woman and her family. In comparision, Attorney General Steve Bullock shows a striking degree of compassion and understanding that ultimately – no matter the situation – supports the radical idea that every woman should have the right to make this decision on her own and with the people in her life (or her doctor’s office) that she trusts.
With little hope of reclaiming either chamber in the Montana Legislature (sorry my favorite and lovely legislators – you know who you are), every anti-woman bill and Republican efforts to close family planning health centers such as Planned Parenthood will be a reality under a Hill Administration. Supporting the Steve Bullock and John Walsh ticket is a no-brainer in 2012 – we need to make sure that there is balance in Helena, not to mention a little common sense when it comes to women’s health.
Director of Public Affairs
Planned Parenthood Advcoates of Montana