HELENA — Gov. Greg Gianforte, flanked by scores of GOP legislators, signed three bills Monday to restrict or more tightly regulate abortion in Montana, declaring it a “day that will go down in our state’s history.”
Gianforte, Montana’s first Republican governor in 16 years, signed into law bills that had earlier faced a veto by Democratic governors.
“Today we are taking action to defend the most vulnerable amongst us – the unborn,” he said to a crowd of supporters gathered in front of the state Capitol on a sunny afternoon. “We are celebrating life. …”
The bills signed into law by Gianforte are:
· House Bill 136, which essentially ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Rep. Lola Sheldon-Galloway, R-Great Falls, is the sponsor.
· HB171, which severely restricts the distribution of abortion-reducing drugs. It requires women to visit a medical provider in person before being provided any such drugs and and bans their distribution on college campuses or at schools in Montana. Rep. Sharon Greef, R-Florence.
· HB140, which requires that any woman considering an abortion must be given the chance to view an ultrasound of the fetus and hear the fetal heartbeat. Rep. Amy Regier, R-Kalispell, is the sponsor.
Republican lawmakers also have passed a bill that will put a referendum before Montana voters in the 2022 general election, that says any fetus born alive during an attempted abortion has the full legal protection of any person.
It passed but did not have the necessary two-thirds vote to be on the ballot.
“It is unethical to intentionally harm the innocence of an immature human being,” Sheldon-Galloway told the crowd. “Thank you, God, for those who came before us and made the path today a path to life.”
Not a single Democrat in the Legislature supported any of the bills.
House Minority Leader Kim Abbott, D-Helena, said instead of passing laws to help the economy, Gianforte and fellow Republicans “are spending their time pushing through a volley of attacks on Montanans’ access to health care.”
Opponents of the laws also have vowed to challenge them in state court, citing a 20-year-old precedent that said Montana’s strict constitutional right to privacy forbids most restrictions on legal abortion.