Dave Hadden

Montana now has a Freedom Caucus, just like the big boys in dysfunctional Washington. I guess we should all be overjoyed. But I am not. The odd thing about the Montana Freedom Caucus is that it’s not about freedom at all.

The Freedom Caucus is about forcing unpopular, ill-informed, and frankly mean-spirited laws on the rest of us. It’s about stripping away freedoms we as Montanans currently enjoy. It’s about the power the Freedom Caucus has to bend the rest of us to their narrow-minded political views.

What freedoms are we talking about?

Just for starters, the freedom to make our own life-affecting medical decisions for ourselves and our families in private consultation with our doctors. Senate Bill 99 would deny currently available medical treatment for a child who is not born “hetero-normal,” that is, a child who lives on the spectrum between normally male and normally female.

This bill would also rigidly define one’s sex at birth by the reproductive parts one appears to be born with. But some humans are born with both male and female parts, a medical condition called “intersex.”

As many as 2 out of 100 children are born with this condition. his is a scientific fact. SB 99 would deny your right to make private medical decisions and provide appropriate medical treatment to your child born with gender ambiguity. The American Medical Association opposes this legislation.

Politicians who play doctor and outlaw medical treatment based on their ignorant ideas of gender are the real threat to society.  Kids don’t “choose” their gender. They are born the way they are born. Denying a person their sense of gender can lead to a lifetime of trauma.  An estimated 41 percent of trans kids in the US attempt to take their own lives due to society’s hostility and prejudice as embodied in these bills.

And then there’s SB 235 which would require public schools to teach only scientific “facts,” and prohibit the teaching of theories. This is another example of the Freedom Caucus’ muddled thinking. This law would deprive our kids of the freedom and the right to learn about how the world really works and to grow into adults who can then deal with the problems of their world.

Theories are the bedrock of scientific inquiry and most theories currently taught in public schools sit solidly in scientific evidence. Take quantum theory.  We can’t replicate it in the lab, but we wouldn’t have cell phones and a lot of other nifty technologies without quantum theory. Maybe the Freedom Caucus will give up their cell phones. This bill threatens the teaching of other scientifically valid theories important to the education of our youth.

The Freedom Caucus also wants to strip from our state constitution your right to “a clean and healthful environment,” among other currently protected rights. Montana enjoys one of the most pristine and beautiful environments in the United States.

Montanans had to claw back much our clean water, wildlife, and quiet public lands that had been overexploited in the past. Now the Freedom Caucus wants to reverse the progress of the last half-century and turn our public assets over to the highest bidder.  This reckless idea isn’t popular in Montana, but the Freedom Caucus doesn’t care.

The bottom line is that the Montana Freedom Caucus isn’t about Freedom. The above-mentioned legislation is just the tip of their agenda iceberg. The Freedom Caucus will cause immediate damage and harm to real people across Montana and sew confusion in our public schools.

The Freedom Caucus wants to be in your doctor’s office, in your bedroom, with you while you fish and hunt, peering over your shoulder to ensure you don’t exercise your current constitutional freedoms. But that’s what Montana gets when we elect extreme politicians to the legislature who aren’t honest about their real agenda of running your life.

Dave Hadden is a resident of Bigfork