Planned Parenthood Says CHIP Discriminates

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – Planned Parenthood of Montana says the state’s Children’s Health Insurance Plan, or CHIP, discriminates against young women because it prohibits coverage of contraception.

In a complaint filed with the state Human Rights Commission, Planned Parenthood seeks to stop enforcement of a state law prohibiting coverage of prescription contraceptives under the CHIP program.

Attorneys for Planned Parenthood say the denial of comprehensive health care for young women violates the Montana Constitution, the Montana Human Rights Act and Montana’s Unisex Insurance Law.

“After several legislative attempts to correct this discriminatory Montana law, including during the 61st Legislature, it is now necessary to pursue legal action to ensure our patients receive the care they need,” said Stacey Anderson, public affairs director for Planned Parenthood of Montana.

A spokeswoman for the state attorney general’s office, Judy Beck, says they received a copy of the complaint Tuesday and have not yet had a chance to review it.

“We’ll need to review it very carefully but we haven’t had time to do that yet,” Beck told The Associated Press.

The attorney general might be called on to defend the law.

Planned Parenthood cites a 2006 opinion by then Attorney General Mike McGrath that required insurance policies in Montana to cover contraceptives if they provided a prescription drug plan. He said failure to do so is discrimination on the basis of sex, and is prohibited.

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