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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

MT Catholic leader applauds Roe reversal, but says it falls short of 'pro-life'

St. Anthony's church in Missoula, MT.
Sierra Cistone
St. Anthony's church in Missoula, MT.

Montana’s Catholic leaders are grateful for the overturning of Roe v. Wade. While abortion remains accessible in Montana, church leaders hope more restrictions will come to the state. They also say more should be done to support parents and families.

Montana Catholic Conference Executive Director Matthew Brower spoke with MTPR’s Corin Cates-Carney.

Brower said new state policies that support parents and families are “putting your money where your mouth is.”

Matthew Brower It's one thing to say that we support unborn children and support mothers, but we aren't just pro-birth, we're pro-life. And that means not only advocating for legal protection for unborn children, but the right then to all the things required for an individual, whether a child or an adult, to reach their fulfillment in life, to reach their full potential. So that's health care, that's food, that's shelter. And there is a policy component to that, a significant policy component.

Corin Cates-Carney Do you think Montana is in a good place now with those policy-supported pieces?

Matthew Brower No, I think there's plenty of work to be done. I think there's plenty of work to be done. A lot does fall to charitable organizations. And we've got a number of groups and individuals, ministries within the Catholic Church that attend to some of that. But I think that needs to be broader and partnering with some state efforts and government to make those things available. So I think there's always work to be done because there are people who, in essence, fall through the cracks or are neglected.

Corin Cates-Carney Do you have specifics of policies you think would be helpful?

Matthew Brower Well, one thing I know — and I'll just cite one — I think increases to the child tax credit. I think that's a significant thing that we have supported. The earned income tax credit[s], those are things that help those who are working, but on the lower end of those income levels. Things like that, that actually make dollars and cents in their pocket. I think efforts like that, great anti-poverty initiatives, things like that, we've been supportive of and would continue to support.

Corin Cates-Carney Wondering how likely you see some of those efforts to have support in the Montana Legislature, which thinking about the health care front now, the Medicaid expansion for providing health care for low income families has been supported multiple times, but by very narrow votes, in the political makeup of the state House. If it is, you know, increasing state programs to support families, how likely it would be for those kind of programs to find political support?

Matthew Brower I think that's really hard to speculate on right now prior to the election. I think there's always that concern that — and I think this kind of runs the gamut. It goes across the board that those who are most in need are the most easily forgotten. And so I think that's a constant challenge, is to raise the voice of the voiceless. And that's part of my job and the job of the conference and other allies I work with on both sides of the aisle to be able to do that. So I wouldn't speculate on what the likelihood is of those things getting through.

But I do know that there is a commitment from a number of good people on both sides of the aisle, even though they might have policy disagreements, to kind of get to that same place. They do value the need to address the needs of those who are on the margins, whether it's the homeless or unborn children, whoever it might be. And so I'm hopeful that we can build some sort of a coalition of folks, again, on both sides of the aisle to address those things in a substantive way. And you have to sell this as something that is really — it's not just a justice issue, which it certainly is, but it's also something that benefits all of society. I'm very hopeful. I can't speculate on specific policies right now, but I'm hopeful.

Corin Cates-Carney manages MTPR’s daily and long-term news projects. After spending more than five years living and reporting across Western and Central Montana, he became news director in early 2020.
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