Friday, February 27, 2009

Update on Montana "Personhood" Amendment

Yesterday I wrote about Montana's personhood amendment. It passed barely in the state senate, by 26-24. Today I caught up with Planned Parenthood's Stacy Anderson, who is working on this issue there. It turns out that pro-choicers shouldn't be too worried about Montana and what Anderson calls "extreme" legislation.

"This is actually a repeat of legislation that we beat in 2007, not only in the legislature but also in the ballot initiative process. So maybe they're thinking that the third time's the charm but they don't have the votes to get it out of the House," Anderson said.

She also told me the anti-choice legislation is about 100 votes shy of the two-thirds majority needed to pass a constitutional amendment, which is what this is proposed to be. She also had some things to say about the language, which I wondered about yesterday. While she wasn't totally sure where it had come from, she noted that there's a reason they went with this particular language, "That language has been approved by our attorney general in the ballot initiative process so I suspect they wanted to just stick with the language that they know will get though," she said. "It's literally the exact language that was used in 2007."

It also sounds like there was a broad coalition that fought the legislation in 2007, so even if the anti-choice movement in Montana did somehow manage to get enough votes, they'd still have to fight groups like Planned Parenthood, NARAL, the ACLU, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and other medical groups. In other words, Anderson doesn't think this legislation is going anywhere.

"It's just unfortunate that we have to continue to talk about such an extreme piece of legislation when there's real situations with the economy and children's health insurance and prevention strategies that aren't getting near the amount of attention that they should be," Anderson said.

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