Montana judge strikes down birth control ban

By Stephen C. Webster
Thursday, May 10, 2012 16:54 EDT
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Montana District Judge Jim Reynolds. Photo: Courtesy, Jim Reynolds for District Judge.
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A judge in Montana ruled this week that the state’s ban on using taxpayer money to provide birth control coverage to girls on the Healthy Montana Kids program is unconstitutional.

Montana District Court Judge Jim Reynolds said in his ruling that the state had failed to provide evidence that the ban does not infringe upon the privacy rights of persons who are not adults, as guaranteed by the state’s constitution.

“In this scheme, if you want to control your acne, your birth control is covered; if you want to avoid pregnancy and control your procreative autonomy, your birth control is not covered,” Judge Reynolds opined, according to reporter Charles S. Johnson writing for The Missoulian. “This turns the idea of the fundamental right of privacy on its head.”

The judge ruled that right to privacy, cemented in the Montana constitution, would appear to actually prohibit laws which require doctors to ask teens what they plan on using birth control for.

He added that the only way to get around that right to privacy would be to show exactly why the state should have no interest in reducing teenage pregnancy rates — something the state’s attorneys also failed to do.

The lawsuit against Montana’s decade-old law was brought in 2009 by the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Photo: Montana District Court Judge Jim Reynolds, as pictured on his campaign website.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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