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I'm writing this letter in response to the Sept. 25 Gazette story on the so-called "personhood" petition circulating in Montana.

Contrary to claims made in the article, Montana has long been a state that values the right to privacy, including the right for women to make private medical decisions regarding their reproductive health. Montana voters have elected pro-choice candidates to the U.S. Senate and to statewide offices in recent years. And, they solidly rejected an attempt to get a personhood amendment on the ballot in the 2008 elections. This attempt fell nearly 20,000 signatures short of qualifying for the 2008 ballot.

This amendment is a backdoor attempt to interfere in our constitutionally protected right to privacy and put legislators and the government in between women and their doctors. "Personhood" initiative supporters are working for a total ban on access to safe, legal abortion care in our state, with no exceptions. They also oppose most commonly used forms of hormonal birth control. CI-102 does not reflect mainstream Montana values.

We must be very careful when amending our state constitution. We don't know the effects rewriting our constitution would have on access to birth control, in vitro fertilization, stem cell research and the difficult medical decisions that women make every day in regards to their pregnancies.

If you value the right to privacy enshrined in the Montana Constitution and the health of women in our state, you would be well-served by not signing the petition for CI-102.

Allyson Hagen

Executive Director

NARAL Pro-Choice Montana

Helena

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