Montana Politics

Some Additional Thoughts on Jesse Laslovich and Choice

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I should note initially that I have not made up my mind about who I will be supporting in the  race for Attorney General. We probably don’t even know who all the candidates are going to be yet.  My initial guest post today was sent by someone I trust who believes that Jesse Laslovich has gotten a bum rap in some quarters for his position on abortion rights. Following the comments posted here today and some research of my own, I’m confident that my guest poster is right: Laslovich will be a strong supporter of a woman’s right to choose if elected Attorney General—and suggestions to the contrary are unfounded.

Let’s look at the record: In the last three sessions, NARAL scored Laslovich very positively:

Why didn’t get a 100% in 2009? His vote in favor of SB 327. Had Laslovich voted for SB 327 in its original incarnation, critics would be right to be concerned about his commitment to abortion rights, as the bill, originally entitled AN ACT ADOPTING THE PROTECTION FOR MOTHERS-TO-BE ACT, was a clear attempt to undermine Montana’s protection for abortion rights. As amended, though, the bill struck all the anti-choice language and simply provided additional penalties for assaulting or murdering a pregnant woman.

Maybe Laslovich didn’t pass an ideological purity test with that vote, but the bill wasn’t (as amended) some kind of radical assault on women’s rights.  In fact, it a bill that I suspect most Montanans would support. I understand the concern about the bill, but supporting it hardly represents an anti-choice viewpoint.

Finally, I’ll say something that will probably get me in trouble. While abortion rights are incredibly important to me, I’m not willing to reject a candidate because he exercised his conscience and voted against the position NARAL took, on one or even a few votes. Independence is important, too. A legislator should be able to take a position occasionally that offends and upsets allies; we don’t all have to agree in lockstep on every issue.

It’s easy for anonymous supporters of other unnamed candidates to attack Laslovich because their candidates don’t have a record of legislation—and were never confronted with bills to vote on. It’s easy to be 100% ideologically pure when you’ve never had to vote, never had to face voters, and never had to compromise.

In the end, Democrats are going to have a number of excellent, well-qualified candidates for Attorney General. Let’s not disqualify one before the election season begins based on an unfair characterization of his record.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it’s a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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