Proposed legislation that would restrict abortion in Montana easily passed the second reading in the State House of Representative and the bills are expected to make their way to the State Senate.
Anti-abortion groups applauded the legislation on Monday while pro-abortion rights advocates described it as government overreach.
House Bills 136, 140, 167 and 171 had their second readings in the State House of Representatives on the same day the annual March for Life rally was held, which seeks to end the practice of abortion.
Earlier in the day, pro-life demonstrators gathered at the State Capitol to advocate for ending the practice of abortion in all forms. A digital rally was also held due to COVID restrictions that featured speakers, prayers and a live ultrasound.
Pro-life groups praised this year’s proposed legislation and are optimistic about furthering more pro-life issues after 16 years of Democratic governors.
“We have larger Republican majorities in both the House and the Senate than we’ve had in the past, plus we now have a governor that says he is pro-life as well, Governor Gianforte,” said Pro-Life Helena President Sharon Nason. “So we’re now hopeful we’re going to have a different outcome than we’ve had the last 16 years.’
The Montana Reproductive Rights Coalition held a press conference following the House floor session decrying the legislation that was passed.
“These bills represent the worst kind of government overreach, placing the government between patients and the medical care they deserve,” said ACLU of Montana Executive Director Caitlin Borgman. “Criminalizing medical professionals and attempting to scare and intimidate patients with outrageous misinformation.”
Borgman also believes that by limiting access to abortion it would create a more dangerous situation, and may lead some women to seek dangerous alternatives.
The Montana Reproductive Rights Coalition has indicated if the proposed legislation were to become law it would most likely be challenged in court as unconstitutional. They also noted similar legislation other states have been stuck down in federal court.
Legislative leaders are currently anticipating HB 136, HB 140, HB 167 and HB 171 to pass the State Senate and eventually find their way to Governor Gianforte’s desk.
Both sides of the abortion issue say they are making preparations for when that happens.