House debates 2 bills restricting abortion in Montana

The House Judiciary Committee heard testimony Wednesday on Senate Bill 329, which would make it a felony to perform most abortions once the fetus can feel pain, which the bill marks at 20 weeks.

By Cole Grant/UM Legislative News Service

HELENA – Montana lawmakers heard two bills Wednesday that would change when and how women can have abortions.

The House of Representatives advanced Senate Bill 282 on a 60-40 vote. It would require, among other things, that if a fetus has a greater than 50 percent chance of living outside the womb, a doctor would need to give it life-sustaining support. The bill needs one more vote to pass the House.

Rep. Lola Sheldon-Galloway, R-Great Falls, voted for the bill.

“The pregnancy is terminated, which is the desire of the mom, but the life of the child is saved,” Sheldon-Galloway said.

In the morning, the House Judiciary Committee heard testimony on Senate Bill 329, which would make it a felony to perform most abortions once the fetus can feel pain, which the bill marks at 20 weeks.

Jessica Peterson with NARAL Pro-Choice Montana says the bill is dangerous and unethical.

“No matter how we personally feel about abortion at different points of a pregnancy, a woman’s health should drive important medical decisions, not personal preferences nor political agendas,” Peterson said.

The committee did not take immediate action on SB 329. Both bills have passed the Senate.

Cole Grant is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association and the Greater Montana Foundation.