Thursday, October 27, 2022

montana health care leaders: providers shouldn't be jailed for providing compassionate medical care

The Montana Medical Association (MMA) today was joined by the Montana Nurses Association, Montana Hospital Association and the Montana Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics in the Montana Capitol Rotunda to ask Montana voters to vote no on ballot initiative LR-131 and stand against government overreach into medical care.

“As medical experts concerned about misleading information surrounding LR-131, known as the Born-alive Infant Protection Act, we’d like to make the message clear – the measure poses very real negative impacts on both providers and families experiencing tragic pregnancy complications,” said William S. Gallea, emergency medicine physician, MMA Past President and Board of Trustees member. “LR-131 would criminalize our work, worsen the grief of families facing these tragic circumstances, and offer no new solutions or protections for the care of infants.”

This initiative imposes “criminal penalties on health care providers who do not act to preserve the life” of born-alive infants. It defines born-alive infants as those with a heartbeat, breathing, or muscle movements born “at any stage of development” (HB167). It states that measures must be aimed to “preserve the life and health of a born-alive infant.” Penalties for health care providers violating this law are up to $50,000 fine, 20 years in prison, or both. The penalties apply to all “health care providers” and require “immediate reporting” of violations.

“What unites us is not wanting to see compassionate care of dying infants criminalized and grieving parents robbed of irreplaceable moments with their infant. Montana’s skilled health care providers shouldn’t face jail time when providing compassionate medical care,” said Dr. Gallea. “These are tragedies, not crimes.”

Montana state law already criminalizes “purposefully, knowingly or negligently” causing the death of a viable infant. Federal law already confers personhood and those rights to medical care to any infant born alive, regardless of gestational age. Additionally, this ballot measure would not impact abortion law in Montana. The membership of the above supporting organizations represents health care experts across Montana with a broad range of views. MMA, MHA and MNA have not taken a position on abortion.

“Montana providers shouldn’t face jail time when providing compassionate medical care. That’s why Montana physicians and health care providers stand united against this ballot measure. Please vote NO on LR-131,” said Dr. Gallea.

Dr. Gallea was joined by an expert line-up of Montana health care leaders speaking in opposition to LR-131, including:

  • Brad Holbrook, M.D., OB/GYN, obstetrician and maternal-fetal medicine specialist,
  • Kelly Hunt, MN, RN, CNL, Director of Professional Development, Montana Nurses Association
  • Erin Green, D.O., pediatrician
  • Lauren S. Wilson, M.D., President, Montana Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics
  • Melody Cunningham, M.D. FAAHPM, pediatric hospice and palliative medicine specialist

A petition against LR-131, open to providers across all medical societies to sign and support, written by Montana pediatricians and OBGYNs was signed by 750 health care workers, standing united against the measure. For more information on why Montana health care providers are standing in strong opposition to LR-131, visit