January 16, 2013 — Bolstered by last year's approval of a parental notification ballot measure (LR 120), antiabortion-rights groups in Montana are pushing a bill (HB 104) that would criminalize the killing of a fetus, the AP/Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports.
The Pregnant Woman Protection Act would allow homicide charges to be brought for the killing of an "unborn child," defined as a human who is conceived but not born. It would not apply to medical procedures, such as abortions.
According to the AP/Daily Chronicle, the bill is expected to pass the Republican-controlled Legislature. Supporters said they might try to place the measure on the ballot if Gov. Steve Bullock (D) vetoes it. A similar measure passed the Legislature two years ago but was vetoed by then-Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D). Bullock received the backing of abortion-rights supporters during his campaign but has not taken a position on the new bill, the AP/Daily Chronicle reports.
Opponents said the bill infringes on privacy rights because it could expose a woman to prosecution and inspection of her medical records if she loses a pregnancy. They added that pregnant women would be better protected from violence through alternative measures.
Kim Leighton of NARAL Pro-Choice Montana said, "This bill attempts to bolster an anti-choice agenda." Other antiabortion bills expected this session include constitutional amendments to redefine when life begins and to state that there is no right to an abortion (AP/Bozeman Daily Chronicle, 1/16).
Repro Health Watch — an exciting new edition of the Women’s Health Policy Report — compiles and distributes media coverage of proposed and enacted state laws and ballot initiatives affecting women's access to comprehensive reproductive health care, as well as litigation in response to those provisions.