Montana Personhood Amendment Backers Trying Again for Abortion Ballot Vote

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 31, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Montana Personhood Amendment Backers Trying Again for Abortion Ballot Vote

by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 31
, 2010

Helena, MT ( — Supporters of a personhood amendment are trying a second time to get a measure to define unborn children as people starting at conception on the ballot in Montana. Should they obtain a November vote and Montana residents support it, the measure would challenge legal abortions and head for an immediate court battle.

Last year, the attorney general’s office approved the ballot language for the amendment.

Constitutional Initiative 102 would define a human "person" under the scientifically accurate notion of the beginning of human life taking place at conception, or fertilization.

The measure, meant for the 2010 elections, is the second effort to get a personhood proposition on the ballot and it requires 48,000 signatures from state residents. The first measure, in 2008, failed to get enough to qualify.

Personhood USA co-founder Keith Mason told WorldNetDaily today that his group is working feverishly to collect the signatures but the effort faces strong opposition from Planned Parenthood.

He said the abortion business Planned Parenthood is calling every voter, "telling them this is going to hurt voters and not give women access to healthcare. They don’t want us to win."

Mason told WND the gruoup is mobilizing volunteers for the June 8 primary election to get signatures from voters heading to the polls.

However, some pro-life groups are not on board because they say the measure would be declared unconstitutional and that the focus should be on changing the Supreme Court so Roe v. Wade can be overturned.

The Catholic bishops of the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings and the Diocese of Helena said they had significant concerns about the previous personhood effort. 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.

The personhood movement has seen mixed results in other states.

Colorado voters voted down the first attempt at securing passage of an amendment but Amendment 62 gives supporters another shot. Observers suggest it will get a higher percentage of voters in a more Republican election cycle but not a majority.

The amendment has qualified for the ballot in Mississippi as well, but backers failed to get enough signatures in California and Missouri. Similar amendments face lawsuits in Nevada and Alaska.


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