Monday, April 22, 2024

Opposes effort to redefine right to privacy

| February 9, 2023 12:00 AM

The Framers structured our government in a way that prevents one branch of government from becoming too powerful. They created a system of checks and balances by carefully defining the powers of each branch. The Legislative Branch makes the law; the Executive Branch enforces the law; and the Judicial Branch interprets the law.

Our own State Constitution states, “No person or persons charged with the exercise of power properly belonging to one branch shall exercise any power properly belonging to either of the others, except as in this constitution expressly directed or permitted.”

Our constitution also states, “The right of individual privacy is essential to the well-being of a free society and shall not be infringed without the showing of a compelling state interest.” The Montana Supreme Court has ruled that the right to abortion is included in the Right to Privacy.

Who determines whether there is a compelling state interest? The courts. The Legislature does not interpret the law.

Nevertheless, Montana SB-154 (defining the right to privacy to clarify no right to abortion) has made it through the Senate and has been transmitted to the House. This law will, indeed, harm Montanans in many ways, but it will also be subject to expensive lawsuits, which are sure to end in support of the Supreme Court’s prior decision. The Legislature cannot legally use this workaround.

We are not a particularly wealthy state, and Montanans need help with such basic things as housing and health care. We should not be spending taxpayer money on expensive lawsuits. Please let your House representative know that you oppose this bill.

Gail Trenfield

St. Ignatius