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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

State senator Diane Sands attends abortion roundtable with VP Kamala Harris

Sen. Diane Sands speaks during debate on the state Senate floor in 2017.
Mike Albans
Sen. Diane Sands speaks during debate on the state Senate floor in 2017.

Just hours after President Joe Biden issued an executive order aiming to protect access to abortion nationwide, a longtime Montana state lawmaker participated in a roundtable discussion on abortion access with Vice President Kamala Harris.

State Sen. Diane Sands of Missoula was one of four representatives from different states present at the roundtable with Harris in Washington D.C. Sands has worked to provide and protect access to abortion in Montana since the 1960’s.

On Friday, Sands spoke of Planned Parenthood of Montana’s decision to stop offering medication abortions to patients from states that have banned abortion due to legal liability concerns.

“And so, their request to you is what can be done to try to protect our providers in a state where it is even legal. Right now, I think that’s seriously in jeopardy.”

Sands said that although abortion remains legal in Montana, Republicans in the state are pushing to overturn the state supreme court precedent that protects access to abortion and potentially revive legislation from last year to amend the state’s constitution to make abortion illegal.

Harris said the president’s office could not wait for Congress to codify protections for Roe, saying that’s why Biden issued the executive order to protect access to abortion where it has not already been banned.

Harris said Congress should still work to make the right to an abortion federal law.

“Well, this really does highlight the importance of elections.”

The political makeup of the Montana Legislature, and Republicans’ ability to advance anti-abortion leglsiation in the state, will be determined in the November election.

Shaylee covers state government and politics for Montana Public Radio. Please share tips, questions and concerns at 406-539-1677 or  
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