Governors in Montana, Minnesota Veto Measures Designed to Restrict a Woman’s Access to Safe, Legal Abortion

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State advocates, policymakers continue to push back against abortion restrictions
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(MEDIA ADVISORY) Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton vetoed two measures yesterday designed to restrict a woman’s access to safe and legal abortion.  The first (HB 809) would discriminate against low-income women by prohibiting state insurance plans from covering abortion services and the second (HB 812) would impose medically unnecessary regulations on abortion providers.  Today’s veto comes less than one week after Montana Governor Steve Bullock vetoed a clearly unconstitutional measure which would ban a woman from receiving safe and legal abortion care after 20 weeks of pregnancy except in narrow circumstances.    

“We thank Governors Dayton and Bullock for standing up to these unconstitutional, discriminatory and cruel restrictions which would have severely limited a woman’s access to safe and legal abortion,” said Amanda Allen, Senior State Legislative Counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights. 

“All women should be able to get the care they need free from political interference and we thank the advocates and elected officials working to make that vision a reality.  The Center for Reproductive Rights is proud to stand with the majority of Americans who believe women are best suited to make decisions about their health, their futures, and their lives.”

The Center for Reproductive Rights sent letters to both governors, urging them to veto the clearly unconstitutional measures.  The letter to Montana governor Bullock noted that SB 329 is clearly unconstitutional, violating “long-established constitutional precedent prohibiting states from banning abortion prior to viability.”  This measure also violates the Montana Constitution, which “contains one of the strongest protections for privacy in the United States,” including a woman’s right of “procreative autonomy.”  Governor Bullock noted in his veto statement that “Montana’s elected officials have no business substituting their personal beliefs for the sound medical judgment of our healthcare professionals or the deeply personal medical decisions of their constituents.”

The veto letter to Minnesota governor Dayton also notes the unconstitutionality of both measures, calling them “discriminatory, harmful, and unconstitutional.”  The letter also states that both measures “would significantly impact women’s access to essential reproductive healthcare and raise serious health policy and constitutional concerns.”  Indeed, HB 812 is “constitutionally suspect” under the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt—a decision secured from a legal challenge brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights.

This week’s veto comes on the heels of numerous efforts at the state level to push back against the wave of restrictions on reproductive health which continue to sweep the country.  Five states have introduced measures which would codify last summer’s landmark Supreme Court ruling in Whole Woman’s Health while several states have abandoned their defense of clinic shutdown laws.  The Virginia Board of Health also voted to amend its Texas-style clinic shutdown regulations in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling, making Virginia the first state to take the step of implementing the Whole Woman’s Health decision through a legislative or administrative body.  Finally, the Center for Reproductive Rights is tracking dozens of state measures which would expand or restore access to abortion care.