Montana Legislature

Jan 15, 2013 8:54 PM by Marnee Banks (Helena)

Lawmakers debate criminalizing purposely causing death of unborn child

Emotions ran high at the Montana Legislature on Tuesday as members of the public testified on a bill which could criminalize the death of an unborn fetus.

MT State Representative Keith Regier (R-Kalispell) is carrying a bill that would make it a crime of homicide if someone purposefully or knowingly causes the death of a unborn child.

The law would not apply to medical procedures.

Regier said, "When someone willfully or neglectfully commits an act of violence against a pregnant woman that ends the desired pregnancy, the crime should be greater than an assault on the woman."

However, the pro-choice community says this is an attempt to put the words "unborn child" into Montana code.

They also say it could potentially lead to a violation of a woman's right to privacy and criminalization of women who miscarry.

Lindsay Love of MT Planned Parenthood Advocates said, "When this bill separates a woman from her pregnancy it sets the stage for compromising the crime against the woman. Under such a bill, as House Bill 104, the prosecution could end up bearing the burden of proving that a woman herself wasn't responsible for the loss of a pregnancy."

The House Judiciary didn't take action on the bill.

Committee members will vote at a later date on whether or not to send it to the House floor for a full vote.

Click here to read the full text of the proposed bill.

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