Montana Republicans in the state House of Representatives have advanced four bills that would make accessing abortion more difficult.
Protestors, including state lawmakers, who oppose abortion rights gathered in front of the Capitol Monday in advance of a floor session where legislators debated the policies. The rally opened with a prayer.
“Father, we stand here today for life. Father, we want to be the people on the right side of history,” a speaker at the rally said.
All four bills under consideration in the House passed second reading mostly along party lines, with Republicans voting in favor and Democrats voting against.
Democrats, like Rep. Denise Hayman of Bozeman, argued the legislation is an unconstitutional invasion of privacy and undermines best medical practice.
“It places undue and medically unnecessary barriers between patients and the medical care they need and deserve.”
Republicans, like Rep. Matt Regier from Kalispell, argued the policies are needed to protect fetuses and women, and that abortion is immoral.
“Every once in a while, we get an issue that defines us down to the core of who we are. And I believe that is this issue.”
Regier is carrying House Bill 167 to require doctors to care for infants born after an attempted abortion. It would put the measure on the next statewide ballot if passed by the Legislature. Infanticide is already illegal and medical experts say surviving an abortion is extremely rare.
The chamber also endorsed House Bill 140, which would require health care providers to offer pregnant women an ultrasound before an abortion.
House Bill 171 would restrict access to medication abortions.
House Bill 136 would ban abortions at 20 weeks gestation.
Abortion rights advocates held a press conference Monday. Laura Terrill is with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Montana.
“The anti-reproductive health bills that passed off the floor today are not in fact about the health and safety of women, because none of them will actually make the need for abortion go away.”
If passed through the Senate, the bills will land on the desk of Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte, who has promised to “defend life.”