‘Simple misogyny’: Three bills restricting abortion signed by Montana governor

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Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte smiles at Rep. Sharon Greef, R-Florence, during the signing of a bill in Helena, Mont. Monday, April 26, 2021.  (AP)
Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte smiles at Rep. Sharon Greef, R-Florence, during the signing of a bill in Helena, Mont. Monday, April 26, 2021. (AP)

Three anti-abortion bills signed into law by Montana governor Greg Gianforte have been slammed as “the worst kind of government overreach” by the state’s ACLU.

The executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Montana, Caitlin Borgmann, said in January that the bills, signed into law on Monday, were a move towards the long-term goal of conservatives to completely remove the possibility of getting an abortion in the state.

Ms Borgmann said the bills place "the government between patients and the medical care they deserve".

“Republicans have ploughed ahead despite clear warning that the bills are unconstitutional and will be challenged in court,” she said at the time, according to The Associated Press.

Former member of the Montana House of Representatives and 2020 candidate for governor in the state, Democrat Reilly Neill tweeted: “Why do you think you have a right to regulate my vagina and reproductive system, Greg? What‘s the obsession with not letting me make decisions on my own? This isn’t about being pro-life. It’s about keeping women in the place your God wants them: under your boot.”

She added: “The anti-women's rights movement is simple misogyny just wrapped in virtue signalling.”

Writing for The Montana Standard on Tuesday, the CEO of Planned Parenthood in the state, Martha Stahl, said: “This legislative session has been terrible for women in Montana who have accessed or will need to access abortion.”

She added: “Republican anti-abortion extremists don’t actually care about the wellbeing of Montana women, babies, and families. What they do care about is finding ways to boost their own political profiles and prospects by dragging out the hardest, most traumatizing moments during a pregnancy and putting them front and centre on the political stage.”

One of the bills signed by Mr Gianforte bans abortions after 20 weeks. Another requires providers to give pregnant women the option of seeing an ultrasound before going ahead with the procedure. The third bill signed by the governor on Monday restricts the use of abortion pills.

“It’s a promising day, a day that will go down in our state’s history as we defend life,” Mr Gianforte said.

Several similar measures have been vetoed by previous Democratic governors.

Mr Gianforte, a Republican, beat Democratic candidate Mike Cooney in the 2020 gubernatorial election.

Signing the bills, Mr Gianforte told an assembled crowd: “Today we are taking action to defend the most vulnerable amongst us, the unborn. We are celebrating life.”

Montana House Minority Leader Kim Abbott, a Democrat, said Mr Gianforte and the Republicans “are spending their time pushing through a volley of attacks on Montanans’ access to health care,” when they should be focusing on an “economic recovery plan that lifts up small businesses and creates jobs”.

Lola Sheldon-Galloway, the Republican who sponsored the law to ban abortions after 20 weeks, said that the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v Wade, which made abortion a nationwide right, was misguided.

She said: “We have waited 48 years to see our governor in Montana sign this bill.”

The Montana legislature passed another law last week called the “Montana Born Alive Infant Protection Act,” which, if it's approved by voters, will require abortion providers to care for fetuses born alive during botched procedures.

Ms Stahl said: “This new law is useless, cruel, ignorant, and unnecessary. It’s nothing more than political theatre and an inflammatory messaging campaign — a way to stoke fear in an attempt to strip us of our rights and freedoms.”

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