Montana Legislature Battles Over Abortion, Stem Cell Research, Pregnant Women

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 19, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Montana Legislature Battles Over Abortion, Stem Cell Research, Pregnant Women

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 19, 2005

Helena, MT ( — The Montana legislature is doing battle over a number of key bills covering abortion and stem cell research. Legislators have also sparred over two bills that address the growing epidemic of violence against pregnant women.

Two competing bills seek to protect pregnant women, but they differ in how they treat unborn children. House Bill 231, backed by pro-life State Rep. Penny Morgan calls unborn children a second victim if they are killed or injured in such an attack while the other, sponsored by Democrat Rep. John Parker, says there is only one victim.

Members of the House Judiciary Committee defeated Morgan’s bill and she attempted to get the bill taken out of committee and placed on the House floor. Her motion required 60 votes and Morgan obtained only 50 to do that.

Parker’s bill, HB 585, is drawing strong opposition from pro-life groups, despite passing out of the House Judiciary panel.

The measure faces a vote on the House floor and then must be approved by the House Appropriations committee before heading back to the floor for final votes.

On the issue of abortion, state House members in the Judiciary Committee have killed a bill that would have required the filing of a death certificate for any unborn child who is killed via an abortion.

Members defeated the bill on a 10-8 vote, with pro-abortion Republican Rep. Mark Noennig of Billings joining the committee’s Democrats to defeat it.

Meanwhile, the judicial panel approved HB 730, sponsored by House Republican floor leader Mike Lange, which seeks to bring the state’s parental notification law in line with state courts, that have declared the measure unconstitutional. The bill heads to a House floor vote next week.

The state Senate is considering a resolution sponsored by Democrat Senator Ken Toole, which would urge President Bush and Congress to spend federal taxpayer dollars on embryonic stem cell research.

Toole contends the president’s August 2001 policy on the controversial research prohibits it, even though the National Institutes of Health has spent more than $190 million on research involving adult stem cells and more than $500 million on all human and animal stem cell research combined.

Toole’s bill, SJ 18, is expected to be approved by the Senate.

Finally, the Senate Judiciary Committee will consider legislation on Monday from Sen. Jerry O’Neill. SB 473 would allow teens who suffer from a botched abortion to be excluded from liability caps if they file a lawsuit against the abortion business if it failed to tell their parents about the abortion.

ACTION: Send a message to your state lawmakers about these bills by going to