HELENA (AP) — A proposal to require an ultrasound for women seeking an abortion failed in the state Legislature on Friday, delivering abortion foes a defeat that also showed fracture in the big GOP majority in the Montana House.
The bill sparked extended emotional debate over an always controversial issue, with Republican opponents saying the measure went too far in proposing such a mandate on doctor-patient relationships.
Sharp opposition also came from several Democrats, including Rep. Diane Sands, who called the proposal "science fiction bizarre" and an unnecessary medical procedure. Rep. Robyn Driscoll, D-Billings, introduced an amendment, which was defeated, to require men to undergo an electrocardiogram before receiving erectile dysfunction drugs.
Some supporters of http://laws.leg.mt.gov/laws11/LAW0203W$BSRV.ActionQuery?P_BLTP_BILL_TYP_CD=HB&P_BILL_NO=280&P_BILL_DFT_NO=&P_CHPT_NO=&Z_ACTION=Find&P_SBJ_DESCR=&P_SBJT_SBJ_CD=&P_LST_NM1=&P_ENTY_ID_SEQ="> House Bill 280 made it clear they oppose abortion, and argued that requiring women to see an image of the fetus prior to an abortion will prompt some to change their minds.
Rep. Pat Ingraham, R-Thompson Falls, argued her proposal to order the ultrasound was necessary because seeing the fetus would help women make an educated choice. Other abortion opponents agreed.
"What do you think happens when you abort the baby?" Rep. Wendy Warburton asked the House.
But opposition from other Republicans appeared to tip the scales against the bill, which failed in a 53-47 vote. Republican opponents noted it was hypocrisy for legislators to support such a mandate, and then argue in other cases for reducing the reach of government into Montanan's lives.
"This is one of the bills that disturbs me the most," said Rep. Walter McNutt, R-Sidney.
The proposal would have made it a crime for doctors to perform an abortion without first providing an ultrasound. It included a fine of up to $1,000 and six months in jail for violators.
A different abortion bill, requiring girls under the age of 16 to notify their parents before an abortion, was the focus of public testimony Friday in the Senate Judiciary Committee. No vote was taken on a measure that has failed several times since 2005.
http://laws.leg.mt.gov/laws11/LAW0203W$BSRV.ActionQuery?P_BLTP_BILL_TYP_CD=SB&P_BILL_NO=97&P_BILL_DFT_NO=&P_CHPT_NO=&Z_ACTION=Find&P_SBJ_DESCR=&P_SBJT_SBJ_CD=&P_LST_NM1=&P_ENTY_ID_SEQ="> Senate Bill 97 requires at least 48 hours of notice to parents before the abortion. The bill provides a way for girls to get a court's permission for the procedure if they cannot notify their parents, such as in the case of an abusive relationship.
Supporters of the legislation said parents have a right to protect their children and that notifying parents can protect victims in instances of sex trafficking.
"The issue is right now a juvenile can't have their tonsils removed without parental permission but they can have an abortion," said Sen. Jim Shockley, the Victor Republican carrying the bill.
State courts have previously ruled that similar notification requirements violate the Montana Constitution's right to privacy provision. Opponents said that the requirement sets up unnecessary road blocks for medical care.
A third abortion bill prohibiting insurance coverage of abortion services offered through health insurance exchanges has already passed the Senate and will be transferred to the House.