Intelligent Discontent

Tag - Planned Parenthood

Guest Post: Helena IR Owes Amanda Curtis an Apology for Sexist Clickbait

by Alison James and Nik Griffith

On September 16, the Helena Independent Record ran a letter to the editor written by Helenan Joe Morgan, headlined “What did Curtis Need Planned Parenthood For?”

In a debate with Steve Daines in 2014, Rep. Amanda Curtis of Butte recounted the critical services offered by Planned Parenthood and stated that she accessed health care there as sixteen-year-old.

Two years later, Mr. Morgan is still thinking about this and wondering why Daines didn’t inquire further into the reasons why a young woman would need to access health care at Planned Parenthood. Morgan uses some rough prose to imply Curtis probably got birth control or an abortion and therefore is not fit to run for office or have an opinion. You can read the entire appalling letter here.


Let’s stop for a second to play the following public service announcement for the seven millionth time: Planned Parenthood does more than abortion.

In 2013 alone, abortion made up approximately 3% of the 10.6 million services offered by Planned Parenthood clinics across the country. Other services offered that year consisted of:

–       4.5 million tests and treatments of STDs and STIs,

–       3.6 million contraception (condoms, IUDs, birth control, etc.) related services,

–       935,573 cancer screenings including breast exams and pap smears, and

–       1.1 million pregnancy tests and other prenatal services.

But it doesn’t matter if Amanda Curtis used Planned Parenthood for an abortion, a cancer screening, or the bathroom. As a Montana woman, it’s her right to make private healthcare decisions at any time in her life without being pilloried in the public square.

Regardless of how big a case of the sads Mr. Morgan and others get at the thought of a young woman exercising agency in her healthcare decisions, the Montana State Constitution (Article II, Section 10) guarantees all Montanans the right to privacy that “shall not be infringed without the showing of a compelling state interest.” Additionally, multiple decisions by the Montana Supreme Court and actions by sitting Legislatures and Governors alike have reinforced that those privacies explicitly mean a woman’s decisions in healthcare are between herself and her medical provider(s)–and that includes minors.

For now, let’s ignore the obviously creepy undertones of an adult man still wondering after the one-time healthcare choices of a female senate candidate two years after her candidacy. Let’s even set aside the troll-ish attempt by Mr. Morgan to divert attention from the point of Rep. Curtis’ original letter (Melissa Romano’s qualifications for Superintendent of Public Instruction). We’re left with the lingering question: “Why would the Independent Record publish such an asinine letter?”

Surely the IR receives ugly, rude, racist, sexist, homophobic letters to the editor all the time.But the IR published this letter and gave credence to the views expressed by featuring it in print. Mr. Morgan’s letter should have hit the trash can the moment it was received, based on the truly offensive material it contained, directed at a public figure who’s done nothing worse than support a fellow teacher running for office and go to the doctor as a teen.

It seems to us that there are two explanations, and either or both could be true (it’s probably both). First, editors at the IR share Mr. Morgan’s views and don’t mind vulgar, sexist attacks directed at female public figures. Second, the IR was trying to stir up controversy and get more hits by publishing the offensive letter. Either way, the IR has once again failed in the ethics of journalism by legitimizing a sexist attack and undermining the voice of a hardworking public servant simply because she’s a woman.

The good news is that Amanda Curtis and Planned Parenthood are accustomed to dealing with wingnuts and sexist attacks and this one won’t faze them. They will both continue serving the people of Montana, in spite of the vitriol of bullies and the clickbaiting of editors desperate to remain relevant, no matter the cost.

If you’d like to demand that the Helena Independent Record apologize to Amanda Curtis and start publishing news, not sexist clickbait, you can email the editor

To donate to Planned Parenthood, who continues to provide necessary, comprehensive care to thousands of families a year–including, but very much not limited to abortion services, you can do so here.

To help elect Amanda Curtis to House District 74, donate to her campaign here.

Alison James occasionally accesses women’s health care, because she is a woman, in Missoula.

Nik Griffith is a Helena-based consultant with a chip on his shoulder and a need to share.

Men (Old and Young) Will Not Tell Women What To Do With Their Bodies

Yesterday in Butte, former Governor Schweitzer asked a question that has stuck with me. He asked a group of supporters at an event with Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards if they believed that Jeanette Rankin “would let a bunch of old white men tell her what to do with her life?”

The answer, of course, is hell no.

Despite the threat to women’s reproductive rights across the country, Montanans have a Democratic candidate for the Senate whose anti-choice record rivals the radicals of the Republican Party. There simply is no other candidate who better fits Schweitzer’s description of an old man who wants to control women’s bodies than John Bohlinger.

I’ve detailed his anti-choice record here a number of times. In response, the Bohlinger campaign offered a half-hearted defense of reproductive freedom that I’ll let you judge for yourself. Hardly a stirring defense of abortion rights, is it? I’ve defended an episode of The Wire with a lot more passion and detail than Bohlinger was able to muster when it came to defending the fundamental privacy rights held by women.

It’s simply insufficient for a Democratic US Senate candidate to wave his hand about and vaguely assert his pro-choice credentials, expecting us to believe that his positions have changed. A candidate who voted for the most stringent restrictions on abortion rights possible, including a constitutional amendment that would have gutted abortion rights needs to do more than claim to be pro-choice now when it is politically expedient.

Bohlinger needs to publicly repudiate those specific votes—and explain why, other than for political calculations, he has changed his position now. The stakes are simply too high, as Cecile Richards reminds us, to take him at his word.

And it’s not just Bohlinger, of course. Other Republicans in Montana seem to have been told by a strategist that calling for increased privacy is a winner with Montana voters. You’ve got Matt Rosendale’s self-funded ego quest centered on claims that he will protect privacy rights, and following a training session, a group of 6-9 young Republican activists have been claiming that they will protect privacy rights by battling the NSA—in the Montana Legislature.

What they seem unwilling to recognize is that they are working in opposition to a battle for privacy that has been ongoing for generations in Montana. Asserting that the right to cell phone data privacy trumps a woman’s right to access health care of her choice reflects a profoundly privileged, and even ignorant, position. Their party platform calls for ending reproductive privacy–and no calls to protect my data can erase that.

It seems especially timely to remind people like John Bohlinger and the young Republicans that the Montana Supreme Court has even more forcefully asserted that the right to privacy than the US Supreme Court. In a decision involving reproductive rights champion Susan Cahill, way back in 1999, the Court, citing Locke and Mill, asserted that privacy rights unquestionably protect abortion rights:

We hold that the core constitutional right infringed by the legislation at issue in the case at bar is the fundamental right of individual privacy guaranteed to every person under Article II, Section 10 of the Montana Constitution.   We hold that the personal autonomy component of this right broadly guarantees each individual the right to make medical judgments affecting her or his bodily integrity and health in partnership with a chosen health care provider free from the interference of the government, except in very limited circumstances not at issue here.   More narrowly, we hold that Article II, Section 10, protects a woman’s right of procreative autonomy-here, the right to seek and to obtain a specific lawful medical procedure, a pre-viability abortion, from a health care provider of her choice.

It seems that both John Bohlinger and the young Republicans should do some reading about privacy protections in our state, because no group of men, old or young, is going to take away access for Montana women.

Montana Cannot Afford Senator Rehberg: 40 Reasons He’d Be A Disaster

A little less than a year ago, I put together a list of the best reasons Montana voters should6437358163_5082a5de9a_m reject Dennis Rehberg as he challenges Senator Tester. In the intervening year, little has changed—except that Representative Rehberg has become worse, authoring legislation and writing budgets that would do serious damage to Montana.

The list of reasons Rehberg doesn’t deserve to win another election in Montana is certainly reason enough reason to vote for his opponent Jon Tester, but one other piece of information bears repeating. All of these reasons to reject Rehberg are balanced by a record of no achievement. In over a decade as our Representative, Rehberg has no legislative achievement to speak of. It’s hard not to remember that his spokesman Erik Iverson, often called the incredibly insulting “Rehberg’s brain,” could only point to naming post offices when asked what Rehberg had done.

All of these reasons to reject Rehberg come from the last two years, since his last election. They don’t even touch his disrespect for Montana Indians, his calls to privatize Social Security, or even his penchant for travel misadventure, ranging from homophobic pranks to drunken horse riding.

This is the record of Representative Rehberg in just the past two years—a clear measure of a man who clearly lacks the resume, temperament, and judgment to be a U.S. Senator.

Tomorrow—why Montanans should enthusiastically support Jon Tester. Today, a litany of reasons why anyone but Dennis Rehberg should represent us.




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Montana, meet Krayton Kerns (and then tell him what you think)

No doubt everyone reading this post is all too familiar with Rush Limbaugh’s unforgivable slur directed at Sandra Fluke.

Well, meet Representative Krayton Kerns of Laurel, MT.  Representative (and it makes me sick that he holds that title) Kerns is taking well deserved flak from Planned Parenthood for drawing a connection between Sandra Fluke and a stud bulldog used at a veterinary school.

You can read about this in greater detail here.

It’s truly stomach-churning stuff.

I encourage you to let Rep. Kerns know what you think of his sexist, derogatory, and completely unacceptable writings on Sandra Fluke.  Kerns deserves just as much backlash as Rush Limbaugh is receiving.  Here’s how you can get in contact with Representative Kerns (information provided by

You can email him at:

You can call him at:

(406) 697-6449

Or you can write him at:

1408 Golf Course Rd
Laurel, MT 59044-3600

Senator Tester Stands for Women’s Health

Good for Senator Tester, better for women:

For the past five years, grants to local affiliates of Planned Parenthood have been an important part of Planned Parenthood’s work to protect women from breast cancer. Komen funding for Planned Parenthood has provided nearly 170,000 clinical breast exams and resulted in 6,400 referrals for mammograms. In 2011 alone, grants from Komen provided Planned Parenthood with roughly $650,000 in funding for breast cancer prevention, screening, and education. According to a recent statement by Komen, “In some areas of the U.S., our affiliates have determined a Planned Parenthood clinic to be the best or only local place where women can receive breast health care.”
It would be tragic if any woman —let alone thousands of women — lost access to these potentially life-saving screenings because of a politically motivated attack.
We earnestly hope that you will put women’s health before partisan politics and reconsider this decision for the sake of the women who depend on both your organizations for access to the health care they need.
The letter is signed by Senators Lautenberg, Murray, Mikulski, Boxer, Cantwell, Gillibrand, Menendez, Wyden, Blumenthal, Shaheen, Begich, merkley, Tester, Akaka, Sanders, (Sherrod) Brown, Leahy, Baucus, Cardin, Feinstein, Franken, and Kerry.

That relatively conservative senators like Begich and Tester signed the letter is testament to how broad the opposition to this decision has really become.

Rehberg’s Late, Secretive Appropriations Bill Would Hurt Montanans

It’s hard to overlook the hypocrisy of Representative Rehberg, a man who has refused to vote for bills because of a lack of “public input” and “adequate Congressional oversight,” when he’s dropped a massive spending bill, weeks late, without even meeting with the members of his committee or scheduling a public hearing to discuss the proposal.

The truth is that Representative Rehberg certainly had good reason for hiding his appropriations bill from both public scrutiny and the committee entrusted with writing it: it’s an absolute disaster for Montana. Some of the specifics should provide a very clear sense of just how far out of touch with Montana values Representative Rehberg is. Even leaving out Rehberg’s pointless and purely partisan propaganda about the Affordable Care Act, the bill is dead on arrival—and should be, as it represents the worst of the current GOP war on social services.

Here’s just a sampling of what Rehberg’s agenda would do to Montanans.

Reproductive Health

Once again, Representative Rehberg is putting partisan politics ahead of vital healthcare for men and women:

While Planned Parenthood understands that Rehberg is no friend to Montana’s women and families, it is unacceptable that Montana’s sole Congressional Representative continues to play politics with people’s lives.

Stacey Anderson, Director of Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood of Montana, said, “At a time when Montanans need our elected officials to come together and address jobs, the economy, and making our communities healthier and more productive, I am disappointed that Rep. Rehberg is using the budget to target health care access and  a health care provider that thousands of Montana women and men depend on.”

College Students

Rehberg’s bill penalizes those who work their way through college, something certainly in keeping with his belief that Pell Grants are welfare. From Representative DeLauro:

Most notably, the largest single change appears to be targeted to students who are working while going to school—especially adult students independent of their parents—and appears likely to reduce Pell Grant assistance for many in this group by many hundreds of dollars. That seems exactly the wrong step to be taking when so many people are relying on Pell Grants to go back to school or stay in school to gain the education and skills they need for jobs in the new economy.

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that Rehberg’s bill will eliminate 31 education programs, including vocational-rehabilitation programs and assistance for institutions which predominantly serve minority students.

Rehberg also inserted language to protect the worst abusers in the for-profit college system, the kind Senator Tester has worked to regulate for Montana families.


Although appropriations bills are intended to do just that—appropriate funds—Rehberg’s bill would strip workers of rights, some legally protected for over 70 years, reduce regulations on mines, and diminish protections for those receiving pensions.

National Service

Despite lip service about the importance of Senior Corps, the Rehberg bill guts the program, along with AmeriCorps, which has provided college assistance for service and countless hours of community improvements here in Montana.

One of the most egregious items is the almost complete elimination of the Corporation for National and Community Service – the agency that administers successful programs such as Americorps and the Social Innovation Fund. The Chairman’s mark simply dissolves the entire enterprise without regard for the unique role CNCS plays in our democracy.

Poor Families

In a blow that will be felt most directly here at home, a place not known for its mild winters, Rehberg’s bill would the LIHEAP (Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program) by 28%.

As Mike Dennison notes, the bill cuts funding for community health centers and the high risk pool to help those who cannot otherwise get insurance. Apparently, Rehberg believes in the Paul plan for catastrophic health care.

Global Health

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Rehberg’s bill would eliminate “HHS funding for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.”

Rumor Has It HB 456 Is Getting the Brand

A reliable source has informed me that HB 456 will likely be one of the many deserving bills to get the veto from Governor Schweitzer tomorrow. As I have awkwardly noted and others have eloquently commented, this bill is nothing more than a tremendous overreaction by a few people who simply aren’t interested in ensuring that Montana students get the health information they need. It’s a terrible bill—in its ideology, language, and implementation.

Let’s hope the governor has heard the wisdom of students on this issue:

Planned Parenthood’s Teen Council  has already made a positive difference in the Helena community. We have had the opportunity to present to local church youth groups about HIV/AIDS information; this is a perfect example of the trust our peers have placed in us. Most of the students were shockingly unaware of the realities of HIV/AIDS, how to contract it, and ways to prevent it. We want to continue to go into local classrooms and youth groups to help our peers understand all aspects of health education. Please do not take away this opportunity to continue  our work with local youth. Look past the misinformation surrounding the issues and help us to help our peers.

Misinformation on critical health issues related to human sexuality can cost young people their health, their lives, and their futures. Here’s to hoping the governor lets this bill die the death it deserves.