Whitney Williams perhaps said it best in this campaign: ” Abortion access is essential healthcare.”
That’s why it’s troubling that her running mate Buzz Mattelin has donated to Montana legislators who proposed and voted for significant restrictions on a woman’s right to choose. Voters in the Montana Democratic primary deserve an explanation about these donations and what they reveal about where Mattelin stands on choice.
In 2012, Mattelin donated to Republican Jim Shockley’s campaign for Attorney General.
In the 2011 legislative session, Shockley was the sponsor of a parental notification bill that would have required survivors of sexual assault and incest to notify their abusers before receiving abortion services. It’s bedrock choice policy to reject these measures because they put the most vulnerable at the greatest risk:
The most vulnerable and scared teens are put at greatest risk. Forcing teenagers to disclose to their parents that they are pregnant or seeking an abortion may place some teens at risk of physical violence or abuse. According to a 1992 study, about one-third of teenagers who did not tell their parents about their decision to seek an abortion had experienced violence in their family, or feared that violence would occur or that they would be forced to leave home.
During that same 2011 session, Shockley also voted for SB 176, which would have prohibited marketplace health plans from covering abortion services, and HB 574, which would have amended the Montana constitution to “clarify” that it “does not grant or secure a right to abortion.”
Those are extremist anti-choice votes, but Mattelin donated to Shockley’s campaign, even though there were two strong pro-choice candidates running in the Democratic primary.
In 2006, Mattelin donated Senator Robert Story, who sponsored a bill in 2004 that called for amending the Constitution to outlaw abortion by declaring that “The protection of unborn human life is a compelling state interest.”
Among those co-sponsoring this legislation were anti-choice luminaries like Jeff Laszloffy, Joe Balyeat, and Ed Butcher.
Democratic voters who care about reproductive health and rights deserve to know why Buzz Mattelin donated to anti-choice candidates.
Some might be tempted to argue that these few donations are simply cherry-picked examples that don’t represent Mattelin’s values. The problem with that line of reasoning, though, is that, between 2000-2019, Mattelin donated to exactly three Democrats and three Republicans, with the last donation to a Democratic candidate coming in 2008, when he donated to Brian Schweitzer’s re-election campaign.
Given that we don’t have a legislative record to examine nor any public statements about abortion rights, the Williams-Mattelin campaign owes it to Montana women to explain these donations and directly answer where their candidate for lieutenant governor stands on choice, an “essential healthcare” question the next administration will almost certainly face.