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At a March for Life rally in Helena, state officials promise more abortion restrictions

At a March for Life rally in Helena, state officials promise more abortion restrictions

More than 200 Montanans filled the Capitol rotunda on Friday for the annual March for Life in support of restricting access to abortion. Two of the state’s top officials addressed the crowd and promised that they’ll push for change to Montana’s current abortion laws. Proposals to do that will be up for consideration in the statehouse soon.

Anti-abortion advocates gather to rally and talk about advancing the movement each January. Attorney General Austin Knudsen told a crowd in the Capitol that he’ll continue to fight for the overturning of a 1997 court precedent that found Montana’s right to privacy protects access to abortion.

“It is time for the Montana Supreme Court to take up the Armstrong case, take another look at it, and reverse it. It is garbage law and it needs to go,” he said.

Knudsen is defending the state’s new restrictive abortion laws that passed in 2021. They’re currently blocked while the lawsuit plays out in district court.

Republican Sen. Keith Regier will soon present a bill to the Senate Judiciary Committee that would ask voters to add a provision to the Montana Constitution stipulating that the state’s right to privacy cannot protect access to abortion. If approved by two-thirds of the Legislature, it would appear on the next statewide ballot.

Democratic lawmakers, who are in a superminority, say that they will oppose legislation designed to restrict abortion, and have plans to bring bills to protect access to abortion.

Gov. Greg Gianforte also spoke during the rally and said that the movement needs to include initiatives to help women care for babies once they’re born. He referenced his proposal to create a state child tax credit that would give families a $1,200 credit annually for each child they have under the age of 6.

“Taking care of families and young mothers is the next chapter in the pro-life efforts,” he said.

Republican lawmakers are planning to bring other abortion-related bills this session, including a bill requiring that physicians offer an ultrasound before an abortion, which is similar to a policy from 2021 that’s been blocked in court. Another bill would require doctors to care for infants born as a result of an abortion – a similar policy was voted down in a recent ballot referendum.

Gianforte signed all anti-abortion bills that reached his desk last session in 2021.

Shaylee began covering state government and politics for Montana Public Radio in August 2020. Originally from Belgrade, Montana, she graduated from the University of Montana’s journalism program and previously worked as a reporter for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and UM’s Legislative News Service. Please share tips, questions and concerns by emailing shaylee.ragar@mso.umt.edu. 
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