Just 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.
Governor 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.”
The 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.
Although 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.