Guest Column

Vote Against Harmful and Unnecessary LR-131

We urge state policymakers and fellow Montanans to affirm the right to keep the state from dictating care in such tragic circumstances

By Adriane F. Haragan, Leah Miller, Timothy Mitchell, Nadine C. Seger

We are Montana healthcare professionals who care deeply for the health, safety, and well-being of our patients. We have dedicated our lives to providing care delivered with quality, safety, integrity, and compassion. That is why we oppose LR-131, the “Born Alive-Infant Protection Act.”

LR-131 forces healthcare providers to take measures at birth to “preserve the life and health of a born-alive infant,” defined as one born “at any stage of development,” including infants born too early to survive outside the womb and infants with malformations incompatible with life. This amounts to the government mandating aggressive treatment for newborns for whom no amount of medical care will save and may instead prolong suffering and severely disrupt families’ grieving process. 

LR-131 will deny grieving families the choice to spend precious time with their infant, even to provide spiritual care. Clinicians who do not provide futile resuscitative efforts to an infant, regardless of the medical circumstances and the family’s wishes, will face felony charges, a $50,000 fine, and up to 20 years in prison. 

Supporters of this ballot initiative may claim it is about abortion and use inflammatory rhetoric, but this has nothing to do with abortion. The reality is that this represents government interference in the patient-physician relationship at times when families need compassionate care and trust in their health care professionals the most. There are so many reasons that an infant may be delivered with no chance of survival – rupture of membranes at a previable gestational age, lethal anomalies of the heart, kidneys, lungs or nervous system, maternal health emergencies, etc. – and this bill pushes a one-size-fits-all mandate that will cause real harm to these babies, mothers, and families.

We trust our patients to make the best decisions for their health and their families’ health in our exam rooms, and urge state policy makers and fellow Montanans to affirm the right to keep the state from overreaching and dictating care in such tragic and difficult circumstances.

On November 8, we look forward to voting NO to LR-131 and prevent this harmful and unnecessary initiative from becoming law. We urge all our fellow Montanans to join us by registering to vote and joining us at the polls in November. 

The contents of this letter reflect the opinions of the signers and not necessarily that of their employers. Along with the authors an additional 760 statewide healthcare providers signed this letter. 

Adriane F. Haragan, MD FACOG Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Bozeman; Leah Miller, MD MPH FACOG Obstetrics & Gynecology, Missoula, Montana Section ACOG Advocacy Chair, Treasurer; Timothy Mitchell, MD FACOG Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Missoula; Nadine C. Seger, MD Neonatology, Billings.

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