Legislative Update: Advances for Womxn, Setbacks for Womxn

2019 Accomplishments and Failures of the 66th Montana State Legislature for the womxn of our state. We have reasons to celebrate, and other reasons to open that second bottle of wine.

HB 21 “Hanna’s Act” is a strong win for Native American womxn and their families and loved ones, as well as being an improvement for all missing person cases in the state. As previously shared in this blog, Native Women experience an exponential missing and murdered rate. Hanna’s Act was one of numerous pieces of legislation that can address the crisis of MMIW.

HB 658 “Medicaid Expansion” is a win for the womxn of Montana. A higher percentage of Montana womxn than men live in poverty and make up 54% of Medicaid recipients in the state. Expansion continuing will help elevate womxn’s health in our state– including reproductive care. Healthier womxn equals stronger families, a healthier workforce, and healthier care givers. Stay vigilant that the work requirements and other restrictions do not remove deserving, hard-working Montanans off the rolls.

SB 100 “Interfering with a Womxn’s Doctor and Their Patient” is a failure of the legislature. This bill forces a doctor to provide womxn with “information” about her abortion before the procedure can be performed. That information is: a live ultrasound, to listen to the fetus, or to view a picture of the fetus. Whether a woman accepts or declines these options will appear on a form that her and her doctor must sign and then the form will be placed in her permanent health record. Repeat: this intensive shaming procedure will now become a permanent part of a womxn’s medical record. You can read the short bill here. SB 100 is just another attempt by the legislature to insert themselves in between a womxn, her doctor, and her health care. This bill has cleared both House and Senate and is headed to the Governor’s office. If you care about womxn’s health and not having a legislative body inside her doctor’s office and health care decisions, please encourage Governor Bullock to VETO this failure. Information on contacting the Governor’s Office is below.

SB 52 “Tracking and Expediency of Rape Kit Testing” Governor Bullock signed this excellent piece of legislation today, which furthers the work of Montana’s Sexual Assault Task Force (launched in 2015 by Attorney General Tim Fox). From the news coverage:

Senate Bill 52 would add tracking to rape kits, require law enforcement to retrieve the kit from a medical facility within five days of evidence collection, and submit the kit to a crime lab for testing within 30 days.

HB 749 “Revisions of Sex Trafficking Laws” This bill is on its way to the Governor’s Desk. Sex trafficking victims predominantly identify as female; with most studies showing over 70% of victims are womxn. Legislation like HB 749 is far overdue — we still have work to do! Read the bill here. And for folks who think this sort of thing “doesn’t happen in Montana”, a sex trafficking operation was busted yesterday. From the Billings Gazette:

Baucus said not all sex workers are victims of trafficking, but in the Billings massage parlors, they are.

“This industry that is posing as legitimate massage businesses — we’re not talking about voluntary sex industry workers,” she said. “These are trafficking victims.”

No state highways in Montana were named for womxn — that will change, thanks to the Legislature! Three highways now named for womxn: Jeannette Rankin, Dolly Akers, and Minnie Spotted-Wolf.

If you know of other pieces of legislation that are accomplishments or failures for womxn in Montana, don’t hesitate to forward them to me for inclusion in this piece.

Contact Governor Steve Bullock’s Office: Call 406-444-3111 or you can email his office here.

Unafraid to take controversial positions on several inflammatory issues, Rankin was a leader in the women’s suffrage movement and a lifelong pacifist. Image Source: History.com.
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About the author

Plains Feminist

Montana and national politics from a Southeastern Montana perspective, focusing on regional activism, womxn’s issues, LGBTQ equality, education, and growth of the Democratic Party. Plains Feminist tries (sometimes fruitfully, sometimes not so much) to connect with the hard-working folks who *eek* out a living on the “not mountains” side of the state. Plains Feminist enjoys intellectual banter over coffee or beer preferably after dark. You can reach her at plainsfeminist@themontanapost.com or on Twitter @PlainsFeminist.


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    • Hi Lynn – apologies for the delay over the holiday weekend. If you are interested in supporting the writing of the Montana Post, you can become a monthly patron here: https://www.patreon.com/dpogreba

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      Thank you for wanting to support independent journalism and this important voice in Montana. Myself and the other volunteer writers at The Montana Post are very grateful.

    • Even though it is spelled differently, it is pronounced the same. I prefer to use “womxn” vs women/woman when talking about issues as so often the word “women” is a very binary term: cis-women only. Whereas many of the health care issues, discrimination issues we discuss here affect all womxn, regardless of how they may present.

      I make mistakes, but I do try to use pronouns, refer to folks how they want to be referred to, and in general be respectful of our neighbors out here. It would be super boring if we were all the same.

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