Montana Legislature

Jan 15, 2013 7:16 PM by Marnee Banks - MTN News

Bill to criminalize death of unborn fetus debated in Helena

HELENA - Emotions ran high at the Montana Legislature on Tuesday as members of the public testified on a bill which could criminalize the death of an unborn fetus.

State Representative Keith Regier (R-Kalispell) is carrying a bill that would make it a crime of homicide if someone purposefully or knowingly causes the death of an unborn child.

The law would not apply to medical procedures.

"When someone willfully or neglectfully commits an act of violence against a pregnant woman that ends the desired pregnancy, the crime should be greater than an assault on the woman," Regier said.

However, the pro-choice community says this is an attempt to put the words "unborn child" into Montana code. They also say it could potentially lead to a violation of a woman's right to privacy and criminalization of women who miscarry.

"When this bill separates a woman from her pregnancy it sets the stage for compromising the crime against the woman. Under such a bill, as House Bill 104, the prosecution could end up bearing the burden of proving that a woman herself wasn't responsible for the loss of a pregnancy," Lindsay Love of Montana Planned Parenthood Advocates said.

The House Judiciary Committee didn't take action on the bill. Members will vote at a later date on whether or not to send it to the House floor for a full vote.

Click here to read the full text of the proposed bill.

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