Speaker’s bill among abortion legislation likely headed to the Senate

By: - March 2, 2023 9:40 pm

House Speaker Rep. Matt Regier, R-Kalispell, speaks on the House floor on March 2, 2023. (Photo by Nicole Girten/Daily Montanan)

Rep. Laurie Bishop, D-Livingston, said that the legislature cannot determine whether legislation is consistent with the constitution, and that the courts have determined time and again that abortion restrictions are unconstitutional.

“There is no code you can write that will change that,” she said.

Bishop said this in opposition to a bill proposed by House Speaker Matt Regier, R-Kalispell, that would restrict access to surgical abortion, considered the safest procedure for abortion after 12 weeks.

House Bill 721 was among several abortion-related restrictions to pass on second reading, meaning they are likely to head to the Senate after meeting the transmittal deadline for general bills without fiscal implications on Friday.

Regier said on the floor, as he did during the committee hearing on the bill earlier this week, that this bill wouldn’t restrict access to abortion, listing procedures and pills that would still be available to those seeking them.

However, opponents to the bill in committee said surgical abortion is the safest termination procedure after 13 weeks and results in the fewest complications.

Rep. Marilyn Marler, D-Missoula, said the bill, which uses language surrounding “dismemberment abortions” and going into details about “fetal parts,” was pushing “abortion stigma” that hurts people and their families.

Rep. Kerri Seekins-Crowe, R-Billings, responded to that saying “abortion also hurts people.”

The bill passed 68-32.

Seekins-Crowe’s bill, one bringing back Legislative Referendum 131 with new language, also passed on Thursday. LR-131 was the “Born Alive” ballot initiative that failed last fall, that would have purportedly required doctors to save any infant born alive after an abortion later in pregnancy.

The new language added  parents or guardians can turn down medical treatment under certain circumstances when a baby is not expected to survive, a major critique from the movement against LR-131 last fall. House Bill 625 passed 68-32.

Rep. Lola Sheldon-Galloway’s sponsored a bill that requires providers who dispense abortion pills to file reports with the state listing potential adverse affects seen in patients. The bill, proposed by the Great Falls Republican, specifies that personal identification information will not be reported.

Sheldon-Galloway said a woman could hemmorhage from an at-home abortion and need emergency room care. Common side effects of abortion pills taken between 10 and 11 weeks gestation involve bleeding and cramping, with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approving the use of mifepristone and misoprostol to end pregnancies up to 10 weeks, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

HB 786 passed 65 to 35.

Sheldon-Galloway’s bill defining fetal viability at 24 weeks passed the House on third reading Thursday night.

Rep. Jane Gillette, R-Bozeman, sponsored a bill requiring pre-authorization for abortions for patients who have Medicaid also passed on the floor.

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Nicole Girten
Nicole Girten

Nicole Girten is a reporter for the Daily Montanan. She previously worked at the Great Falls Tribune as a government watchdog reporter. She holds a degree from Florida State University and a Master of Science from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.