By Cole Grant/UM Legislative News Service

HELENA - Lawmakers heard testimony Monday on a bill that would make it illegal to perform an abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy.

Senate Bill 282 mandates that if a serious or life-threatening condition exists after 24 weeks, a health-care provider would have to either induce labor, or deliver the baby via c-section and provide “life-sustaining support to the viable fetus.”

Performing an abortion at this stage would be a felony under the bill.

Retired gynecologist and obstetrician Carol Eve M Moon said babies at 24 weeks are well developed, and just as viable as ones that are 40 weeks old.

“Their ability to function outside the womb as human beings, entitled to the same rights and privileges as any person in this room, and any citizen in the United States,” she said.

Terry Forke, a Pastor with the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, also supports the bill.

“From God’s perspective, 100 percent of aborted babies are viable,” he said. “And medical science seems to agree, because if they’re not alive when they’re aborted, then it’s not called an abortion.”

President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Montana Martha Stahl said the bill is unconstitutional, dangerous for women, and replaces physician’s medical judgement with political ideology.

“Doctors should never be put in the position of having to wait for a medical condition to worsen and become life threatening before being able to provide an abortion,” she said.

Sen. Diane Sands, D-Missoula, is a vice chair on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which heard testimony on the bill. She said, “What in fact this bill does is remove the decision and the judgement of both the woman and the physician, and substitutes the government’s decision for that.”

Sen. Albert Olszewski, R-Kalispell, is carrying the bill.

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.