Montana lawmakers endorsed a bill Thursday that would change the state's Constitution to ban abortion in any circumstance. Although it is one of several anti-abortion bills making headway this session, this proposal will need to find bipartisan support in the Senate to continue moving forward.
House Bill 337 would change the definition of a person in the Montana Constitution to give fertilized eggs, zygotes, embryos, and fetuses full legal protection. This would make abortion unconstitutional in the state.
The bill would need approval from Montana voters before it could become law.
Rep. Caleb Hinkle, a Republican from Belgrade, is carrying the bill.
“I firmly believe that life is the creation of something truly unique, something that individually, on a genetic level, has never happened before in the history of the world," Hinkle said.
The House endorsed the bill on a party-line vote.
Because it asks for a voter referendum to change Montana’s Constitution, HB 337 needs affirmative votes from two-thirds of the entire Legislature to pass. That means 33 senators, including two Democrats, would have to vote for the bill before it can reach the ballot.
That is unlikely to happen, as Democrats have pushed back against this proposal — and all anti-abortion bills — this session.
Rep. Robert Farris-Olsen a Democrat from Helena, said the bill violates the Montana Constitution’s right to privacy and would restrict access to abortion and to other types of birth control.
“This bill criminalizes any activity that prohibits a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus, or threatens to harm or destroy a fertilized egg," Farris-Olsen said.
The bill has to clear one more vote in the House before it can move to the Senate for consideration.