Anti-abortion activists in Montana are once again trying to drum up support for an amendment to the state constitution that will label fetuses as people, guaranteeing a fetus the full rights of citizenship from the moment of conception. The Montana Secretary of State approved a signature gathering effort, which would add the amendment to the states November ballot, allowing the residents to vote on the proposed amendment. As previously mentioned on this blog, if the amendment passed it would outlaw ALL abortions as well as some very common forms of birth control.
The Montana Pro-Life Coalition is spearheading the effort, but is unlikely to succeed. Similar attempts were made in both 2009 and 2010 and neither got past the signature collecting phase. They will need to gather almost 49,000 signatures to get the amendment added to the ballot. Last year they were only able to get 36,376, more than 10,000 less than needed.
They also face opposition within the “pro-life” community. Montana Right to Life, Montana Catholic Conference, and the Family Foundation all oppose the amendment on the grounds that such an amendment would be overturned in a court battle and would then strengthen Roe vs. Wade– the Supreme Court decision that currently protects abortion access.
A personhood amendment would not only violate Roe vs. Wade, it would fly in the face of Griswold vs. Connecticut, in which the Supreme Court declared that states cannot pass laws that interfere with access to birth control. So there is no legitimate way for such an amendment to remain active, even if it were to somehow get the support needed.
The Montana congress has also tried to get a personhood amendment passed through legislative means. A bill has been introduced in both the House and the Senate but hasn’t made it to the people for a vote.
Though Montana has an anti-choice congress it still managed to receive an A- from NARAL Pro-Choice’s state rating system. This is because although there are gestational bans, restrictions to teen women’s access to abortion, biased counseling and waiting period requirements and an conscious exemption to deny birth control etc; they still require contraception to be covered by all insurance plans that cover prescriptions, provide abortion access to low income women and protection against clinic violence. The Montana state constitution also (currently) provides a higher level of protection for a woman’s right to choose than the U.S. Constitution.