Montana Public Radio

Abortion Bills Draw Opposition From Montana Medical Association

Jan 21, 2021

Montana lawmakers heard two more bills on Wednesday that were aimed at changing how the state regulates abortion.

Republican Rep. Amy Regier is sponsoring House Bill 140, which would require health care providers to offer pregnant women the opportunity to have an ultrasound before an abortion, except in emergency situations. It would fine providers found in violation $1,000.

“Helping a woman make the best choice should be the goal of every medical provider," Regier said.

Laurel Hesse with the American Civil Liberties Union of Montana opposed the bill.

“There is no health-based justification for this particular bill and this particular insertion into the doctor-patient relationship," she said.

Rep. Matt Regier (R) - HD4
Credit Montna Legislature

Republican Rep. Matt Regier, Amy’s brother, is carrying House Bill 167, which revisits a policy the Legislature endorsed last session but was later vetoed by former Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock.

House Bill 167 is what anti-abortion-rights advocates describe as a “born-alive bill” that would require doctors to care for infants born after an attempted abortion. The bill would put the policy to Montana voters, meaning it would appear on the next statewide ballot.

Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte has said he would sign such a bill into law.

“This is a defining issue that goes directly to who we are, and I believe Montanans should have the final say," Matt said.

Infanticide is already illegal and medical experts say surviving an abortion is extremely rare. When Bullock vetoed a similar bill in 2019, he said that federal law already protects and provides for care of infants.

Anti-abortion groups, like the national Charlotte Lozier Institute and the local Montana Family Foundation, voiced support for both of the bills proposed on Wednesday.

The Montana Medical Association opposed both policies. Greg Dorrington with the MMA said the organization doesn’t normally comment on abortion, but it can’t support bills that legislate medical practice or impose penalties on practitioners.

“When the Legislature adopts code that mandates specific processes or procedures be taken in the course of medical treatment, it infringes upon the physician’s medical judgement," he said.

The House Judiciary Committee is expected to vote on both bills Thursday.