Mont. House Approves Parental Consent Bill

February 28, 2013 — The Montana House on Tuesday voted 59-41 in favor of legislation (HB 391) that would require written parental consent before a minor can obtain an abortion, the AP/Missoulian reports.

The bill also would require the parent and the minor to sign a form describing the risks associated with the procedure. Minors would not have to comply with the measure if they are emancipated from their parents or obtain a judicial waiver.

Supporters of the bill framed it as a sequel to a ballot measure (LR 120) that Montana voters overwhelmingly approved in November. The initiative requires parental notification before a minor younger than age 16 can get an abortion, while the parental consent bill would apply to those under age 18.

Opponents of the new bill argued that requiring parental permission goes too far and could be considered an invasion of privacy. They added that most teens already consult their parents on reproductive decisions and that those who do not likely have a reason, such as abuse.

Abortion-Rights Opponents Push More Restrictions

The parental consent bill is one of several measures Montana abortion-rights opponents are pushing in the wake of their success with last year's ballot measure. The other measures include bills that would allow criminal charges for the killing of an "unborn child" during an attack on a pregnant woman (HB 104) and bar Planned Parenthood's involvement in sex education programs. Each bill has an identical referendum that could be placed on the ballot if Gov. Steve Bullock (D) vetoes it.

On Tuesday, Bullock warned lawmakers to be "cautious" in proposing new restrictions related to women's health.

Lindsey Love, communications manager for Planned Parenthood of Montana, said, "This may seem like a quieter war on women, but the attacks are happening nonetheless, and our Legislature is further marginalizing women and families who need health care and deserve privacy" (AP/Missoulian, 2/26).