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Montana must defend the right to contraception

The Senate's June 4 vote on the Birth Control Rights Act has brought Montanans' reproductive rights into focus. The implications for our state's reproductive freedoms could not be more dire. This is about protecting the basic personal liberties of all Montanans.

The Right to Contraception Act, which would protect the availability of birth control pills, IUDs, emergency contraception, and other contraceptive options, comes at a crucial time. Our own Senator Daines has refused to support the bill, showing how out of step he is with the overwhelming majority of Americans who believe that the right to decide whether, when, and how to have children is a private matter and should be protected from political interference.

Yet across the country, extremist forces are working tirelessly to reverse decades of progress in reproductive health, an effort evident in the relentless legislative attacks on contraception that followed the overturning of Roe v. Wade in 2022.

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Justice Clarence Thomas joined the ruling in Dobbs, calling for a “reconsideration” of the Griswold v. Connecticut decision, which recognized the right to contraception nearly 60 years ago. This threat to our liberties is not abstract – it is happening now, and it is happening here.

This issue is very important to Montanans. On June 4, supporters of the Right to Contraception Act gathered at Senators Tester and Daines' offices in Helena to deliver a petition signed by more than 1,800 Montanans in support of the act. The Right to Contraception Act is a necessary protection to ensure that all Montanans can make informed decisions about their reproductive health without fear of political interference.

In Montana, we see both support and opposition to these vital rights. Senator Jon Tester co-sponsored the Right to Contraception Act and voted for it because he recognized its importance to the health and autonomy of Montanans. Senator Steve Daines, meanwhile, has joined the opposition, reflecting a broader national trend of Republicans resisting contraception protections.

More than 80% of the American public, including a clear majority of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents, support contraceptive protection. This consensus is not limited to any particular demographic—it spans age, race, gender, and political affiliation. Protecting the right to contraception is not just a health care issue; it is a fundamental aspect of personal freedom and privacy.

Montanans understand the importance of contraception not only for preventing pregnancy but also for treating a range of health problems. Nearly 60% of women use contraception for reasons other than preventing pregnancy, such as treating endometriosis, relieving menstrual cramps and reducing the risk of certain cancers. For many, contraception is a cornerstone of personal health and autonomy.

The economic impact of contraception is equally significant. It enables people to plan their families, careers and futures, thereby contributing to greater economic stability and growth. Women in particular benefit from being able to continue their education and careers without the interruption of unwanted pregnancies.

Despite these clear benefits, Republican lawmakers like Senator Daines and right-wing groups continue to oppose contraception. We have seen them use false claims that IUDs and emergency contraception cause abortions in an attempt to restrict all forms of reproductive health care.

What they fail to realize is that the public in Montana is watching and will not tolerate any attempts to undermine our reproductive freedoms. As we reflect on the recent vote, we must hold our politicians accountable.

We must stand united for our reproductive rights. The future of contraception in Montana – and across the country – depends on our collective action and unwavering resolve. We will move forward to protect and advance the freedoms that define our society. The fight for the right to contraception is far from over, and together we will make sure our voices are heard.

Deborah Agnew, MD; Kathryn Lysinger, MD, Billings; Brooke Cadwell, CNM, APRN, PMHNP, Bozeman; Michael Caracciolo, Bozeman; Betsy Danforth, Bozeman; Stephanie McDowell, CEO, Bridgercare, Bozeman; Cara Wilder, Bozeman; Andrea Hoolan Wolfe, Bozeman; Erin Green, DO, FAAP, Helena; Christine Kaufmann, Helena; Pat Kemp, Helena; Anna Nix, BSW, JD, Helena; Marjorie Albers, MD, Miles City; Tondy Baumgartner, MD, Missoula; Jennifer Mayo, MD, Missoula; Katy Meinbresse, FNP, Missoula; Trent Taylor, MD, Missoula; Lauren Wilson, MD, FAAP, Missoula

The future of contraception in Montana – and across the country – depends on our collective action and unwavering determination

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