HELEN, Mont. (AP) — Montana voters rejected a legislative referendum that raised the prospect of criminal prosecution for health care providers unless they take “all medically appropriate and reasonable steps to preserve the life” of a child born alive, including after an attempted abortion.
Medical professionals and other opponents have argued that the proposal could rob parents of valuable time with infants born with incurable medical conditions if doctors are forced to attempt treatment.
« Today’s victory sends a clear message to state leaders that the people of Montana are demanding our right to make private health care decisions for ourselves and our families with the help of our medical teams. of trust – and without the interference of politicians, » Hillary-Anne Crosby, a spokeswoman for an organization called Compassion for Montana Families that opposed the measure, said in a statement Thursday.
The result comes after a string of victories for abortion rights supporters in states across the country where abortion was right on the ballot in midterm elections. Voters enshrined abortion protections in the state constitutions of Michigan, California and Vermont. They also rejected an anti-abortion constitutional amendment in conservative Kentucky, just as voters did in Kansas in August.
Supporters said Montana’s bill seeks to prevent the killing of infants outside the womb in the rare event of a failed abortion, which is already illegal. Penalties for violating the proposed law would have included up to $50,000 in fines and up to 20 years in prison.
The bill’s sponsor, Republican Representative Matt Regier of Kalispell, did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment. He said taking extreme measures to save the life of a child with fatal deformities « is not medically reasonable ».
However, the referendum did not specifically create the ability for parents to opt out of such care, opponents noted.
According to Americans United for Life, a Washington, DC-based organization that opposes abortion, assisted death and childhood stem cell research, at least half of US states have implemented place similar laws on live births after abortion.
« This move would have criminalized doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers for providing compassionate care to infants and, in doing so, overruled the decision-making of parents in Montana, » said a statement from the chapter’s Lauren Wilson. of Montana from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Amy Beth Hanson, Associated Press