The Montana Senate advanced a pro-life bill Wednesday to make clear that the state constitution does not include a right to abort unborn babies.
The Montana Free Press reports the sponsor, state Sen. Keith Regier, R-Kalispell, said babies in the womb are human beings who deserve rights.
“I know that some courts have determined that a right to privacy means a right to abortion,” Regier said. “I want to remind you that courts have made wrong decisions in the past. From Dred Scott to eugenics to Roe v. Wade, the court has made wrong decisions that were later corrected.”
His bill, Senate Bill 154, addresses a 1999 Montana Supreme Court ruling that found a so-called right to abortion in the state constitution under the right to privacy. As a result, state taxpayers are forced to pay for abortions and lawmakers have been hampered from passing even modest protections for babies in the womb.
If the bill passes and voters approve it on the ballot, it would amend the Montana Constitution to say “the right of individual privacy … may not be construed as creating or recognizing a right to abortion or to governmental funding of abortion.”
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The state Senate passed the pro-life bill in an initial floor vote Wednesday, voting 28-21 with six Republicans joining Democrats in opposition. A second and final vote likely will take place Thursday before the bill can move to the state House, which Republicans control by a strong majority.
Prior to the vote, state Sen. Shannon O’Brien, D-Missoula, slammed the legislation, claiming killing unborn babies in elective abortions is “comprehensive health care.”
“The majority of Montanans do not support restricting access to comprehensive health care for women,” O’Brien said, according to the Free Press. “This bill, as mentioned before, is blatantly unconstitutional and will be litigated, and thus becomes a waste of taxpayer time and dollars.”
State Sen. Wendy McKamey, R-Great Falls, also opposed the bill, asserting that she is “adamantly pro-life” but she believes the bill unconstitutionally restricts the right to privacy, the report continues.
However, other states have passed similar state constitutional amendments that now protect unborn babies from abortion. In 2018, West Virginia voters approved a very similar measure on their ballot to reverse a court ruling that found a right to abortion in their state constitution and forced taxpayers to fund the killing of unborn babies for years. Tennessee, Alabama and Louisiana voters also have passed pro-life state constitutional amendments in recent years.
The U.S. Supreme Court also rejected the notion that the right to privacy includes abortion when it overturned Roe v. Wade in June. Now, 14 states have begun protecting unborn babies from abortion and more are fighting in court to do so.
Two new polls show growing public support for legal protections for unborn babies. Last week, a Marist College poll found 69 percent of Americans support limiting or banning abortions, up from 62 percent in June. Another new poll from UMass Amherst found a 5-percent drop in those who say Congress should pass a law to make abortions legal nation-wide and a 6-percent increase in support for a national abortion ban, WCVB News reports.
The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services reported 1,675 abortions in 2020.