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Montana House approves constitutional amendment criminalizing abortion

(UM Legislative News Service) An amendment to the state constitution that would criminalize abortion passed a preliminary vote 56-44 in the House of Representatives Thursday.

House Bill 302 would bestow the constitutional rights of life, liberty, property and due process to a person at any stage of development, including the point of conception. Rep. Greg DeVries, R-Jefferson City, sponsored the bill.

“This bill once again provides the Montana Legislature and the citizens of Montana the opportunity to repent,” he said. “Personhood begins at conception. We need to restore to those persons their rightful due process of law.”

Rep. Emma Kerr-Carpenter, D-Billings, one of the 44 lawmakers who voted against the bill, says decisions about her health should be made by her.

“This is directly legislating my healthcare, my body and my life,” she said. “The Supreme Court of the United States has upheld time and time again, that my health is between me and my healthcare provider and my husband if I choose to include him.”

Constitutional amendments need 100 votes out of the 150 members of the Legislature. If an amendment moves through the Legislature, it is then put on a ballot during the next election and the governor does not have an opportunity to veto it.

The bill faces one more vote before it could move to the Senate.

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