Montana Legislature Sees Several Bills Backing, Opposing Abortion

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 21, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Montana Legislature Sees Several Bills Backing, Opposing Abortion Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 21, 2005

Helena, MT ( — Montana lawmakers have a bevy of legislation to consider both promoting and opposing abortion and advocates on both sides of the abortion debate are stepping up their efforts to promote their favorite measures.

Pro-life advocates held a rally at the state capitol earlier this week to tout three separate measures.

One bill requires death certificates to be issued each time an abortion occurs to note the death of the unborn child.

Another requires abortion facilities to inform women considering abortions after 16 weeks of pregnancy that the abortion can cause significant pain for the unborn child. The mother then has the opportunity to ask for anesthesia for the baby prior to the abortion.

A third bill is similar to the law that prosecuted Scott Peterson in the double murders of Laci and Conner Peterson. It would recognize that, when a pregnant woman is assaulted and her unborn child is killed or injured, there are two crimes on which to charge assailants.

That legislation, put forward by pro-life Rep. Penny Morgan, a Republican, had a hearing on the House Judiciary Committee earlier this week but has yet to receive a vote.

Not to be outdone, abortion advocates, who oppose all three proposals, staged a smaller rally at the capitol Friday to tout their own legislation.

One measure by Rep. Robyn Driscoll, a Billings Democrat, would make it a crime to block access to an abortion business. It restricts how close protesters can be to the abortion facility.

The other bill, sponsored by Missoula Democrat Greg Lind, would require health insurance plans that pay for prescription drugs to also pay for contraception.
Pro-life groups opposed the insurance bill saying that it would be used to cover the so-called morning after pill, or Plan B, which can sometimes cause abortions. It could also be used to eventually cover the dangerous abortion drug RU 486.

"We must keep up the fight, protect the rights we’ve earned," Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Jerri Duran said at the pro-abortion rally.

That fight led some abortion advocates to harass Bozeman state Rep. Roger Koopman, who is sponsoring the death certificate bill.

Not long after he put forward the legislation, Koopman filed a report with police in the south central Montana city on Monday after he was the victim of numerous harassing phone calls.

Pranksters also phoned local pizza delivery companies and placed fictitious orders bearing his name.

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