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Lawmakers Vote Down Abortion-Review Panel Amendment

Graphic: Montana Public Radio News, Politics

Montana lawmakers have narrowly voted down a proposal to create a panel that would decide which patients are eligible to receive Medicaid reimbursement for abortion-related services. A slate of other bills to restrict access to abortion are awaiting consideration by the governor.

Lawmakers on the Senate Finance and Claims Committee voted 9-10 to reject creating the panel. The group would have decided who could get abortion services paid for under Medicaid, as a potential add-on to the state’s $12 billion budget.

The panel of three appointed physicians would have reviewed why patients enrolled in Medicaid accessed abortion care to determine if they meet critieria for reimbursement. That criteria was defined in the proposal as abortion that is medically necessary, abortion that is necessary if the pregnant patient’s life is in danger or abortion in cases of rape or incest.

The Republican majority at the Montana Legislature has passed several bills that would restrict access to abortion and those are awaiting either a signature or veto from Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte. One would ban abortions at 20 weeks, another would put restrictions on medication abortions and a third would bar health insurance on the Affordable Care Act exchange from covering abortion.

Gianforte has said he is anti-abortion.

Shaylee is Montana Public Radio's Capitol reporter. She previously worked for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and covered the 2019 legislative session for the University of Montana's Legislative News Service.
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