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).