Montana Senate OKs Amdt Limiting Privacy Clause on Abortion, Goes to House
by Steven Ertelt
February 19, 2009
Helena, MT (LifeNews.com) — The Montana Senate on Thursday approved 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.
The Senate voted for Senate Bill 46 on a 29-19 vote and now the measure heads to the House where it needs 71 votes.
That’s because it is a constitutional amendment and 100 legislators must give their okay to the bill for it to go before voters on the state ballot. The bill will not likely receive that number of votes since Democrats control the house and most of the caucus is pro-abortion.
Also today, lawmakers held a hearing on a personhood bill that would declare an unborn child a person under state law and it would likely result in abortions becoming illegal and limiting any research conducted on babies during their embryonic stage of development.
McGee is also the sponsor of that bill, which is similar to a measure the North Dakota legislature as advanced.
Looking at the amendment, the Montana Constitution, which originated in the early 1970s, contains a privacy clause that the drafters meant 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.
McGee, from Laurel, hopes to change the state constitution to make it clear the privacy clause does not apply to abortion.
"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.
"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."
Right to Life of Montana and other pro-life supporters backed the bill while the ACLU of Montana, Montana NARAL and Planned Parenthood opposed it.
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