last night, Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer vetoed a harmful bill, Senate
Bill 97, that would have severely invaded the privacy of minors, restricted
young women’s access to essential reproductive healthcare, and put some minors at risk of physical or emotional harm by requiring physicians to notify a parent of any minor under the age of
16 seeking an abortion 48 hours before the procedure.
Schweitzer wrote in his veto statement, “I have vetoed SB 97 because I have
been counseled that it is likely unconstitutional….Given the strength of the
1995 Wicklund decision rejecting as
unconstitutional an almost identical parental notice law, and a subsequent
decision of the Montana Supreme Court solidifying Montana’s strong privacy
provisions not only generally, but specifically in the abortion context (Armstrong v. State, 1999 MT 261), I have
chosen to veto SB 97.”
Center for Reproductive Rights was lead counsel in both cases cited by the Governor and relied heavily on the
courts’ reasoning in both cases in the veto letter sent to the Governor last
month urging him to stop this bill. The Center has been tracking SB 97 since its
introduction in December of last year and was prepared to immediately file a
lawsuit if the bill became law.
The Center strongly commends the Governor for his decision.
His veto is clear evidence of the continuing impact of the Center’s
court victories and the importance of constitutional protections we’ve worked
to establish under the Montana Constitution.
State legislatures have increasingly become the chief
battleground where the Center must fight to protect women’s access to
reproductive healthcare. Right now, the Center is tracking more than 500 state
legislative efforts to restrict contraceptive and abortion services.
the battle ahead is great, the Center’s commitment to defending and protecting
women’s fundamental human rights will never waiver. Today’s victory is another
step towards the day when every woman will be able to participate with full
dignity as an equal member of society.