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Legislature Seeks To Ban Affordable Care Act Plans That Cover Abortion

Montana Republicans are adding another bill to the slew they’re bringing this legislative session to restrict access to abortion in the state.

House Bill 229 would bar plans offered through the Affordable Care Act health insurance exchange from covering abortion, except in the event of a medical emergency. It was heard and endorsed by the House Judiciary Committee Friday on a party-line vote. 

Rep. Jane Gillette, a Bozeman Republican, is sponsoring the legislation. She said there’s at least one plan on the health coverage exchange available in Montana that covers abortion. 

"There’s currently, in the United States, 34 states that do not include abortion coverage, and so Montana is actually an outlier."

The Legislature passed a similar policy in 2011, but it was later vetoed by Democratic Gov. Brian Schwietzer.

Rep. Robert Farris-Olsen, a Democrat from Helena, questioned why health insurance plans on the exchange should cover reproductive health care for men, like vasectomies, but not abortions for women. He spoke against the bill during executive action. 

"I just have a fundamental problem with the state paying for my reproductive health, but not paying for women’s reproductive health based essentially on our sex or gender."

The policy will move onto the full House of Representatives for debate.

Copyright 2021 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit Montana Public Radio.

Shaylee is a UM Journalism School student. She reports and helps produce Montana Evening News on MTPR.