HELENA, Mont. — The Montana House of Representatives has voted in favor of a pro-life bill recognizing the unborn as persons, thus advancing the measure to the Senate for approval.
If HB 425 passes in the Senate, it would allow for a referendum to be placed before voters on whether the state constitution should allow for the unborn to be granted personhood rights from the time of their conception.
“No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, the bill reads. “As used in this section, the word ‘person’ applies to all members of the species Homo sapiens at any stage of development, including the stage of fertilization or conception, regardless of age, health, level of functioning, or condition of dependency.”
“What this bill would do would restore Montana’s abortion law to its pre-1973 state,” sponsor Matthew Monforton (R-Bozeman) told the Great Falls Tribune. “Laws governing abortion ought to be determined by this body. … That’s the best way to protect the sanctity of life.”
But some have expressed opposition to the effort, stating that mothers would consequently have no say in whether or not to abort their unborn babies and may seek illegal means to end the child’s life.
“Literally a cell becomes an American citizen,” Rep. Virginia Court (D-Billings) remarked to the outlet.
“Now is the time for legislators to be focused on increasing jobs and access to healthcare, not amending our Constitution in a way that would put government in the doctor’s office and put the lives of women at risk while undermining their ability to make private medical decisions,” the Montana Reproductive Rights Coalition also asserted in a document presented to lawmakers.
But following a second reading on Friday, HB 425 passed 54-46 in the House. A two thirds majority in the legislature is all that is needed to place the proposal on the 2016 ballot.
The Montana Pro-Life Coalition says that it is supportive of the measure.
“The root of legalization of abortion is the denial of personhood and the false doctrine of judicial supremacy. Justice Blackmun, who wrote the majority decision in Roe v. Wade, himself said that if the personhood of the unborn was established, then their right to life is guaranteed specifically by the 14th Amendment,” the organization explains in an online document. “That is why we say the personhood of the unborn is pivotal to overturning Roe v. Wade.”
“We will continue to stand and bear witness for the millions of souls who have no voice,” Monforton said.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, in 2011, the latest figures on file, “2,220 women obtained abortions in Montana, producing a rate of 12.3 abortions per 1,000 women of reproductive age.” There were 1.1 million abortions nationwide that year.
There are five abortion facilities in Montana.