Montana’s CI-108

November 6, 2011

As promised, I’m posting about CI-108, the latest personhood amendment attempt from the MT anti-choicers.  I’ll be honest though. It’s actually difficult for me to get fired up about it this time around.  Montana’s citizens have rejected similar attempts before.  None of the previous initiatives have gathered enough signatures.

My concern, however, is that I’m not the only one having a hard time getting fired up, and the signature gatherers will be able to use that to their advantage this time around.  Are they just reintroducing the same initiative over and over to wear us down?  It might not be a bad strategy.

CI-108 would be a particularly dangerous amendment, if it made it to the ballot.  It modifies the Due Process clause of the state constitution to define “person” as anything from a fertilized egg onward.  And you may recall the the Due Process clause reads “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.”

Ponder that for a moment, if you will.  Replace the word person with fertilized egg, zygote, embryo or fetus.   No fertilized egg shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.   Can you see where this is going?

It is clearly a method of outlawing abortion or at least making it so difficult to obtain that it is effectively outlawed.  It could even be used to outlaw the use of certain types of birth control, including Plan B, IUDs, or anything that might prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg.

And even though many people think this is a bit ridiculous it could actually bring about a situation where miscarriages had to be investigated to determine if they qualified as negligent homicide or something.  Did the woman drink or smoke, exercise too much or too little?   Did she eat sushi that included raw fish?  What about unpasteurized cheese or anything else known to be harmful to fetal development?

These amendment attempts keep cropping up all over the place.  I believe Mississippi and Colorado are also targets at the moment.

My sincere hope is that the initiative will fail to qualify for the ballot again due to lack of signatures.  I haven’t quite figured out when the deadline for submission is, though.  As always, I encourage everyone to be very aware of what it is you’re being asked to sign.  We’ve had instances of petitioners being very deceitful in the past.

I’ll share more information as I find it.



For any of you interested in the CI-102 petition, Montana Cowgirl over at Left In the West has posted some very interesting and potentially disturbing info about the folks behind CI-102.  Please check out her post.

Quick Hit: HB 228

March 20, 2009

I have it on good authority that HB 228 aka Kerns Crazy Gun Bill, is being amended & approved by the Senate and will be heading back to the House.  I’m not sure when.  4and20Blackbirds posts about it here.

Please get in touch with your legislators.  Here’s my set of links for finding & contacting them again.

1. You need to know your full zip code, which you can find here.
2. Using that zip code, the folks at Project Vote Smart will tell you who your Senator and Representatives are (scroll down).
3. Once you have that info you can go here to use the handy online form to contact your representatives. OR
3a. Between sessions you can go here to find their direct e-mail addresses.

An update on the bills I discussed a few days ago, in this post.

Would you believe that Sen. Shockley’s bill protecting clinic protesters is ready for its third and final reading in the MT Senate? Well, it is. Please note that should this bill become law, it carries with it a fine of up to $100.

Both SB406 and SB046 passed the Senate and are scheduled for hearings before the House Judiciary committee on March 13th. Here are the committee members. If you write to any of them, and I hope you do, remember to ask that your comments be shared with the whole committee.

Also of interest is SB 236, Sen. Wanzenreid’s bill to abolish the death penalty, which is scheduled to be heard before House Judiciary on March 25th. I support this bill and I hope it passes, though I’m not sure it will make it past the Governor’s desk without being vetoed, even if it makes it through the House.

And remember, you can listen to or watch committee hearings and sessions whenever a particular bill interests you. Audio and video are also generally posted to the archives by the next day.

Access to Birth Control

February 9, 2009

One issue that continues to come up in state legislatures and assemblies across the US is access to birth control. Do Pharmacists have the right to refuse to fill birth control prescriptions or do women have the right to have their proscriptions filled without delay or interference?

Is it really appropriate for a person to refuse to do their job on religious grounds, while retaining that job?

Here in Montana there are several bills currently in committee that relate to this issue. On the side of those who support the supposed right to refuse is HB 351. It provides protections to pharmacists and medical practitioners who refuse services on religious grounds. It elevates this supposed right to refuse prescriptions or services to that of a basic civil right. It allows practitioners to refuse to advise, prescribe, provide, or perform certain drugs or health care services, or assist in those activities. It goes on to specify that the health care services that may be refused include artificial birth control, abortifacients and abortion, amongst others. For the moment, I’ll focus on birth control.

HB 351 offers these practitioners protection against, among other things, hiring discrimination, demotion, transfer, termination, and denial of licensing or certification. So if a pharmacist starts to refuse to fill prescriptions for birth control, this would protect them from being fired. In most jobs that I know of, refusing to do your job is perfectly reasonable grounds for termination.

The bill also states that there can’t be hiring discrimination or refusal to license or certify these providers. How can someone be certified or licensed to do a job that they won’t do? How can employers be required to consider applicants who admit up front that they will be refusing to do part of their job? That wouldn’t fly in any other hiring situation I can think of.

On the side of those who support access to birth control are two very similar bills, HB 257 and HB 307. HB 257 would enable a woman to have her prescription filled directly by her doctor or other medical practitioner who has prescriptive rights when no pharmacy is available within her community. It also goes on to allow certain prescriptions to be filled by a nonpharmacist auxiliary and require the board of pharmacy to determine procedures necessary for the licensing and registration of these auxiliaries. HB 307 is very similar except that it does not allow for these auxiliaries and it specifies the distance to the nearest available pharmacy as 25 miles from the patients residence.

I can see where some might object to the auxiliaries listed in 257, but I don’t personally see a big issue there. The stipulation that the board of pharmacy will determine the licensing and registration procedures seems reasonable. However, I see a significant issue with the distance requirement in 307. Twenty five miles may seem like a short distance to most of us, but consider that these situations have the greatest impact on the poorest amongst us, such as those most likely to lack a reliable vehicle to travel these distances with. Imagine a woman who is struggling to make it on minimum wage, without a car, trying to find a way to travel to a pharmacy that is 24.7 miles away. That seems like an undue burden to me.

HB 284, the Montana Pharmacy Patient Protection Act addresses the issue more directly. The language of this bill states that pharmacies have a duty to fill prescriptions for any drugs or devices that they carry, without undue delay. Undue delay is defined as “an extension of the normal delivery cycle sufficient to jeopardize or alter the patient treatment plan.” It goes on to state that if the pharmacy has run out of the drug or device that it shall offer to obtain the drug or device according to normal procedure. Additionally, if the drug or device is not normally carried by the pharmacy the pharmacy should locate a reasonably accessible pharmacy that does carry the drug or device and transfer the prescription.

HB 284 adds further protections in that pharmacists are not allowed to begin refusing to provide services without 90 days notice to their employer. They also may not destroy unfilled prescriptions (yes, this has happened).

None of these bills is perfect. I would rather see one that combines the patient protections of 284 with the provisions of 257 and 307, allowing for medical practitioners to provide these prescriptions should the need arise.

I don’t believe that pharmacists have a right to impose their religious beliefs on the public they serve. The right they do have is a right to change careers, should they find that their conscience will no longer allow them to perform their required job duties.

On the other hand, I believe that patients do have a right to have their prescriptions filled, without delay, interference or judgment, unless there is some sort of medical danger that can be shown to exist, as in the case of medications that will interact in dangerous ways. I also believe that women have a right to control their fertility and that this right is fundamental to achieving gender equality.

In the end, this sort of refusal to provide drugs and procedures is gender discrimination, plain and simple. It isn’t about religious objections to birth control as much as it is about controlling women. I believe the law must protect us against this sort of discrimination, rather than allowing or enabling it.