Martha Stahl

Martha Stahl, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Montana in front on her office. 

HANNAH POTES, Gazette Staff

During the first year of the Trump-Pence administration, we have seen relentless attacks on basic rights and health care. This administration has ended protections for survivors of sexual assault, undermined the very humanity of LGBTQ people, attempted to take health care coverage away from 20 million people, and tried time and time again to block patients from coming to Planned Parenthood health centers for care.

These offenses have been prioritized by the administration and Congress instead of working together to find common-sense solutions to issues facing our country. Since October, Congress has even failed to pass a budget through the 2018 fiscal year.

However, through this administration’s attacks, Sen. Jon Tester has been a champion for Montana families, particularly in holding his colleagues accountable to pass a budget that works for Montana. He addressed his colleagues on the Senate floor recently urging them to find middle ground and a common sense plan for the budget -- a budget that goes through the end of the fiscal year and includes funding for rural health care.

There have now been five continuing resolutions, which are temporary band-aid solutions -- but Senator Tester wants better for Montanans. He voted against the most recent resolution because it did not include funding for Community Health Centers nor a solution for affordable prescription drugs, both of which put rural Montanans health care at risk.

Tester does what’s best for our state rather than doing what’s politically convenient.

Just 10 days out from another government shutdown last month, Congress was wasting precious time working on a politically motivated attack on a woman’s right to make private medical decisions. Tester opposed this one-size-fits-all ban on abortion -- he knows that these policies can leave women in potentially vulnerable and dangerous positions. His vote demonstrates his unwavering commitment to a value we hold deeply in Montana, privacy. Sen. Tester understands that planning a family is a personal matter, and private medical decisions should be left between a patient and their medical provider.

Tester has been a beacon of hope serving Montana in Washington, and we are proud to call him our Senator. He has long stood with Montana women and families by advocating for the Children’s Health Insurance Program and Community Health Centers, opposing defunding of Planned Parenthood, and standing up for a woman’s right to make her own medical decisions with the help of her doctor, not Congress

He never stops fighting for Montana. On behalf of Planned Parenthood of Montana’s patients, staff, and board, thank you, Sen. Tester.