Montana Abortion Advocates Say Personhood Amendment Lacks Signatures

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 25, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Montana Abortion Advocates Say Personhood Amendment Lacks Signatures

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 25
, 2008

Helena, MT ( — Abortion activists in Montana say pro-life advocates who are behind a personhood proposal failed to collect enough signatures to get the measure on the November ballot. CI-100 would establish legal personhood for unborn children and could pave the way for banning abortions in the state.

In order for CI-100 to make it on the November 2008 ballot, it must have 44,000 signatures from registered Montana voters. Friday, June 20 was the deadline for the backers of the initiative to present enough signatures to the Secretary of State.

Activists with Montana NARAL sent out a victory email to their supporters Monday night claiming the pro-life advocates failed to reach the number.

The group referred to its efforts at the polls during the primary election to persuade voters against signing the petitions.

"Thanks to supporters like you, more than 350 activists volunteered at polling places around the state to stop CI-100," the group said. "Montanans sent a message: A dangerous and divisive amendment like CI-100 has no place in our state."

State Rep. Rick Jore was behind the effort and the Billings Gazette tried to reach him for confirmation that the signature effort failed and he was unavailable.

Jore sponsored a bill in the state legislature to try to get the personhood amendment on the ballot and it died on a party-line vote. Montana NARAL said in the email it is targeting the pro-life lawmakers who supported it.

"We must look forward to November, where 45 anti-choice legislators who supported a bill identical to CI-100 are running for reelection," the pro-abortion group said. "These candidates are out of touch with Montana values, and we’ll need your help to get the word out."

Not every group in the pro-life movement was on board with the personhood amendment.

As reported in March, Right to Life of Montana endorsed the proposal after initially taking a neutral position.

And the Catholic bishops of the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings and the Diocese of Helena said they had significant concerns about it.

They commended the pro-life principles behind CI-100 but issued a statement saying they have problems with the strategy behind it.

The bishops said they don’t believe CI-100 "is the most beneficial venue to pursue necessary change" and indicated a concern that it would be overturned in court and add to the pro-Roe v. Wade legal precedent.

Montana has long had problems with language from its constitution getting in the way of reducing abortions as it is one of a handful that have a privacy clause that its state supreme court has misinterpreted to mean that abortion should be legal without limits.

The Montana Supreme Court has previously ruled pro-life legislation unconstitutional on that basis despite federal courts saying the bills comply with federal constitutional requirements and similar bills allowed in other states.

Some pro-life advocates see the measure as not fully addressing the court’s decision and favor an amendment to make the privacy clause abortion neutral.

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