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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Bill Requiring Anesthesia For Fetuses On Wednesday's Legislative Agenda

Montana Capitol.
William Marcus
Montana Public Radio

Wednesday at the Montana Legislature brings a bill that would require anesthesia for fetuses before operations in the womb. House Bill 479 would also mandate testing on a fetus’ age and and if that fetus is at least 20 weeks old, anesthesia would be required.

Republican Representative Albert Olszewski, the bill’s sponsor, is a physician and says it’s to prevent suffering.

“By the time the child reaches 20 weeks, that they are fully capable of experiencing pain.”

However, conclusive research is scarce and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says pain isn’t likely until at least week 24.

Pro-choice advocates like NARAL say this bill could be a step toward banning abortions after 20 weeks using non-medical terms like “unborn child” and establishing a state’s compelling interest.

Olszewski says this bill wouldn’t affect the ability to perform an abortion, but would involve additional planning.

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