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Montana Lawmakers Hear First Anti-Abortion Bills Of 2021 Session

Rep. Lola Sheldon-Galloway, R-Great Falls, introduces House Bill 136 to the Montana House Judiciary Committee Jan. 19, 2021. The bill is the first in a slate of bills seeking to add restrictions on abortion access.
Austin Amestoy
/
UM Legislative News Service
Rep. Lola Sheldon-Galloway, R-Great Falls, introduces House Bill 136 to the Montana House Judiciary Committee Jan. 19, 2021. The bill is the first in a slate of bills seeking to add restrictions on abortion access.

On Tuesday, Montana lawmakers in the House Judiciary Committee heard the first two bills to be introduced this session aimed at restricting access to abortion.

Republican Rep. Lola Sheldon-Galloway is carrying House Bill 136, which would ban abortions at 20 weeks of gestation or later. Republican Rep. Sharon Greef is carrying House Bill 171 which would place new restrictions on medication abortions as well as add new requirements for the providers performing them.

Both bills would level felony charges against providers who violate the mandates.

“Montanans can make the right choice today to move forward, to take the ethical position to protect the unborn and give them life," said Sheldon-Galloway.

Montana's two recent Democratic governors have vetoed bills that would limit abortion access, but newly-inaugurated Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte has said he is anti-abortion. The change of political power in the governor’s office could give bills like those heard in the House Judiciary Committee this week a clearer path to become law.

Carolyn Truscott of Helena spoke in support of both policies, saying they are steps in the right direction to banning all abortion.

“Abortion should be unthinkable," she said.

About 15 people spoke in support of the bills during their first hearing Tuesday, including those representing the national Susan B. Anthony List and the Montana Catholic Conference. Representatives with Planned Parenthood of Montana and Montana Women Vote spoke in opposition, along with a handful of others. 

Greg Dorrington with the Montana Medical Association said while the MMA doesn’t normally take a stance on abortion legislation, H.B. 171 would be legislating a medical practice - an action the organization opposes.

“Physicians - through their extensive training and education - are the ones who are most qualified to treat patients, based on their individual circumstances consistent with the standard of care and their professional medical judgment," Dorrington explained.

Kelsen Young with the Montana Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence also spoke in opposition.

“Trust women: Empower us, give us choices, allow us to make the decision that is right for us and our families," she told the committee.

The House Judiciary Committee is hearing two more bills that would restrict abortion Wednesday morning.

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