Montana Senate Panel Debates Amendment to Limit Privacy Clause on Abortion
by Steven Ertelt
February 12, 2009
Helena, MT (LifeNews.com) — A Montana Senate committee on Wednesday held a debate on legislation that would limit the misuse of the privacy clause in the state constitution to allow for unlimited abortions. Montana is one of a handful of states where the state Supreme Court has misconstrued the Constitution to support abortion.
Originating in 1973, the state constitution’s privacy clause was meant by its drafters to apply to government surveillance like wiretapping.
Instead, in the 1999 Armstrong decision allowing non-physicians to do abortions, the Montana Supreme Court allowed a virtually unlimited right to abortion by claiming the clause made it so.
Sen. Dan McGee of Laurel hopes to change the state constitution to make it clear the privacy clause does not apply to abortion.
A panel heard a tenuous debate between pro-life and pro-abortion advocates on his measure, Senate Bill 46.
"The people of Montana must decide this question — not the Supreme Court," McGee told the Senate Judiciary Committee. "The protection of unborn human life is indeed a compelling state interest."
The amendment would have the Constitution say the "protection of unborn human life is a compelling state interest," that would not ban abortions or make new laws but mitigate the state high court’s decision and its effect on laws the legislature passes.
The bill is a constitutional amendment, which requires support of two-thirds of the state legislature to get on the ballot and go before voters. That is a tough vote to achieve and a similar bill in 2007 didn’t get a simple majority in the state House.
"There are people on both sides of the aisle that favor this. I don’t know how many," McGee said, according to an AP report. "I’m remaining optimistic, perhaps foolishly so."
Montana Right to Life and other pro-life supporters backed the bill while the ACLU of Montana, Montana NARAL and Planned Parenthood opposed it.
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