Montana’s Republican lawmakers hold a supermajority, giving them the power to ask voters to approve a constitutional amendment that would sever the link between abortion rights and privacy rights in the state constitution.

But so far, they have not tried to ask voters to amend, rewrite, what would have allowed lawmakers to ban or further restrict abortions after the U.S. Supreme Court gave it the authority to do so. back to the states last year.

Since then, 14 states have almost completely banned abortion The trial against Wade was overturned Montana last year is one example of how the fight over abortion policy is likely to continue for some time in some Republican-controlled states.

“It takes time,” said the Montana House Speaker Matt Regier, a Republican. “It took years to overturn the wrong decision in Roe v. Wade.”

Montana is there one of 11 states — most recently joined by South Carolina — where courts have ruled that access to abortion is a constitutional right, and legal battles to overturn or enshrine those rights are intensifying. Florida Reproductive Health Providers challenging the 15-week total ban on abortion in the state Supreme Court, citing a longstanding interpretation that the state’s right to privacy extends to abortion. Legislation is pending over what standards Iowa will adopt after the state Supreme Court reversed its 2018 decision that due process and equal protection ensure access to abortion.

Meanwhile, in January Minnesota, where there was already a court that recognized abortion as a constitutional right, built that protection into state law and extended the right to reproductive health care. In the same month, Supreme Court of South Carolina lifted the ban on abortion after six weeks, joining states that have defined abortion as a right. There, abortion opponents and supporters alike await new attempts by the Republican-controlled legislature to curtail access.

Noem says she will “push” GOP governors, including DeSantis, to do more to restrict abortion


In Montana, the administration of Republican Governor Greg Gianforte wants to turn back a 1999 State Supreme Court Ruling at the same time, the state’s constitutional right to privacy also extends to abortion. Republicans could bypass the courts and go directly to state voters to make these changes without the support of Democratic lawmakers. It came after Republican lawmakers won a two-thirds supermajority in the legislature, allowing the GOP to override the veto and put the constitutional amendment up for a vote.

Republican lawmakers introduced at least four constitutional amendment bills so far in the legislative session that began in January, but none have addressed the issue of abortion. That could be due to uncertainty about how Montanans and even Republican lawmakers would react to such a proposal after voters in other states sided with abortion rights advocates on ballot issues in last year’s election.

Voters in Kansas and Kentucky rejected constitutional amendments that would have declared no right to abortion. Voters in Michigan, Vermont and California have codified abortion rights in their constitutions. And Montana voters rejected a born alive initiative. it would make it criminal for health professionals who fail to attempt to save the life of a child, embryo, or fetus after a botched abortion or other birth.

Jesse Benniona political scientist who teaches at Montana State University and Carroll College, said Republicans, unsure of where voters stand, are likely hesitant to attack the state constitution.

“What the Republicans are doing right now is they’re testing the waters,” Bannion said. “Miterm Elections Spooked Many Republicans.”

There are signs of a split within the party as well. The state Senate recently debated a bill that would add to the state law declaration on the right to privacy does not apply to abortion. The bill passed the Senate 28-21 and is now before the House, but six of the Senate’s 34 Republicans voted against it.

Republicans hold 102 of the 150 seats in the Montana Legislature, and while they can pass laws with a simple majority, they need a supermajority of 100 members to put a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot. And with state Democrats opposed to new abortion restrictions, Republicans can’t afford too many defections if they propose a referendum.

Some Republicans who voted against the bill said their issue was not abortion, but the potential invasion of medical privacy. Senator Bruce Gillespie has supported bills limiting the length of pregnancy in past legislative sessions, but he said he could not vote for the latest bill.

“I’m not for abortion, but I’m also not for trying to dictate people’s rights,” Gillespie said.

Republican Senator Jeff Welborn, another “no” voice, said he’s heard from people who, like him, believe there is a time and a place for abortion. “There are more people who think like me and don’t necessarily have the courage to vote the way I do,” Welborn said.

The spokesman for the Senate Republican Party, Kyle Schmauch, noted that it is still early in the session and that a constitutional amendment is not out of the question. But it’s unclear how far people want the restrictions to go.

“The people of Montana generally want to see at least some restrictions on abortion,” Schmauch said. “I don’t think we have a real reliable sense of what voters think about all the different rules.”

Democratic lawmakers have introduced reproductive health bills to expand access to health care, such as requiring insurers to cover a year’s supply of birth control, in what they call an attempt to find common ground. They also have a bill to codify the right to abortion in state law, but as a minority party, their proposal is unlikely to get very far.

“We expect to be fiercely defensive and watch as Republicans try to take away Montanans’ right to make their own decisions about their own bodies,” he said. Democrat Alice Buckley.

KHN (Kaiser Health News) is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism on health issues. Along with policy analysis and surveying, KHN is one of the three main operating programs in the KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation). KFF is a non-profit organization that provides health information to the nation.

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