Montana lawmakers moved forward with multiple pro-life bills this week to protect babies and mothers in their state.
In the House, state Rep. Jane Gillette’s House Bill 229 passed its first hurdle on Wednesday in a 66-34 vote, KPVI News 6 reports. Her legislation would stop taxpayers from subsidizing abortions in the state Affordable Care Act health insurance exchange.
House Majority Leader Sue Vinton, R-Billings, said the legislation does not prohibit abortions; it simply protects taxpayers from funding abortions, the Missoula Current reports.
“It ensures that the government is not in the business of funding abortions, and that individual taxpayers, our constituents, are not paying for abortion services,” Vinton said.
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Other pro-life bills that passed the state House last month would directly protect babies’ lives.
One bill, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (House Bill 136), would ban abortions after 20 weeks when unborn babies are capable of feeling pain.
“It is unethical to me to intentionally harm an innocent, immature, human being,” said state Rep. Lola Sheldon-Galloway, R-Great Falls, who sponsored the bill.
Another bill, the Montana Born-Alive Infant Protection Act (House Bill 167), would require that basic medical care be provided to newborn babies who survive abortions.
Two more bills, House Bill 171 and House Bill 140, would create new safety regulations and reporting requirements for abortions. These include banning abortion drugs in schools and on school grounds, and requiring abortion facilities to inform women of the opportunity to see an ultrasound of their unborn baby before going through with an abortion.
The Montana Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings on the four pro-life bills Thursday and Friday.
Caitlin Borgmann, executive director for ACLU of Montana, criticized House Bill 171, claiming lawmakers are pushing “false statements” that will “frighten” women and dissuade them from having abortions, NBC Montana reports.
But state Rep. Sharon Greef, R-Florence, its sponsor, said her goal is to protect women by increasing safeguards when they do seek abortions.
With Republican majorities in both chambers and a new pro-life governor, Greg Gianforte, Montana pro-life leaders hope the bills will become law.
Pro-life laws do save lives, and polls consistently show that Americans support strong limits on abortion. A 2020 Gallup poll found 55 percent of Americans wanting all (21 percent) or almost all (39 percent) abortions to be illegal. In contrast, 43 percent of Americans said they want all (29 percent) or almost all (14 percent) abortions to be legal.