Montana's House of Representatives votes on quartet of abortion bills

HELENA - Reproductive rights were up for debate Monday, as Montana’s House of Representatives voted on four abortion-related bills. 

Several legislators shared passionate testimony on the House floor as debate for these controversial bills took place.

As expected, all four bills passed second reading today on a 67-33 party-line vote. 

If signed into law, HB 136 would prevent abortions after women are five months pregnant, and HB 171 would limit the ability for women to get chemical abortions across the Treasure State. 

Several opponents to these bills spoke out as the process played out, including this testimony.

"The problem with this bill is that it seeks to punish women for exercising their legal and constitutional right to an abortion and seeking healthcare,” said Rep. Emma Kerr-Carpenter, a Billings Democrat. “All while disingenuously claiming to provide women with the information that they need to make a decision."

Supporters of the bills argued that the steps they are taking would save the lives of infants across the Treasure State, and make sure women are making decisions based on informed consent from medical providers.

"Please don't forget what this bill is about!” said Rep. Derek Skees, a Kalispell Republican. “We're saying if we're going to cause pain to a human being that we should not do it, and we've said it repeatedly throughout our culture."

The House also passed two other bills that if signed into law would require women to view an active ultrasound and listen to a fetal heart tone before having an abortion. 

The bills would also require healthcare providers to recognize infants born alive, including after an abortion, as a legal person and entitled to the rights of other Montanans as a result.

Now, these four bills will most likely undergo third reading Tuesday, and assuming the vote margins stay the same, be sent to the Senate for debate.

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