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Montana Lawmakers Consider Abortion, Death Penalty, Assisted Suicide Bills

A pro-life sign is displayed during the 2019 annual March for Life rally in Washington Jan. 18, 2019. (Photo: CNS/Tyler Orsburn)

HELENA, Mont. (CNS) — The Montana Senate gave initial approval Feb. 25 to four bills restricting access to abortions in the state.

Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte said he supported at least two of the bills and is expected to sign them when they reach his desk.

The bills include the Montana Born-Alive Infant Protection Act, which would ban abortions after 20 weeks gestational age; the Montana Born-Alive Infant Protection Act, which would put this to the voters in a referendum; and a measure to require a pregnant woman seeking an abortion to get an ultrasound first.

A fourth bill, the Abortion-Inducing Drug Risk Protocol Act, requires a woman to have “informed consent” that includes warnings of death and other dangers at least 24 hours before a medical, or drug-induced, abortion.

But on another life issue, the death penalty, the Montana House has passed legislation loosening requirements for lethal injections in the state. H.B. 244 now goes to the state Senate for consideration.

“A vote for H.B. 244 is a vote to restart inhumane executions in Montana — a process that is costly, unnecessary, cruel and contrary to the fundamental pro-life principles we hold dear as Catholics,” said the Montana Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the state’s Catholic bishops.

Finally, a March 1 vote was expected in the state Senate to explicitly make physician-assisted suicide illegal in Montana.

“Physician-assisted suicide represents misguided public policy and is an extremely dangerous practice with detrimental implications for all of society,” said a statement from the Catholic conference, which testified in support of the bill, S.B. 290.

“Physician-assisted suicide sends the wrong message to the young people of our state where we already have one of the highest suicide rates in the country,” the statement said. “It can encourage people with years to live to throw away their lives. Additionally, it offers new paths for elder abuse and could lead to some individuals steering people toward suicide.”

The Montana Catholic Conference added: “We know physician-assisted suicides are being performed in Montana because opponents of the bill have testified in hearings that they are assisting Montanans to commit suicide.”