By Dave Andrusko
Montana voters voted down Legislative Referendum 13, a proposal to assure equal treatment for babies that survive an abortion, by a vote of 53% to 47%.
231,739 votes were cast against compared to 209,218 in favor.
The referendum says that “infants born alive, including infants born alive after an abortion, are legal persons.” It would require “health care providers to take necessary actions to preserve the life of a born-alive infant.”
The Montana Medical Association, which opposed the measure, issued a statement saying that it “is pleased that the practice of medicine will be left to doctors and patients.”
As per usual, opponents said these infants were already protected by “clear state and federal legislation,” which was simply not true.
In an interview with Montana PBS earlier this year, state Rep. Matt Regier, a Republican from Kalispell who carried the bill that put the referendum on the ballot, said he felt any measures possible to preserve an infant life were necessary.
“I think it looks a lot better than death. I think that to me, that is so straightforward of would you rather be alive and in an intensive care unit or would you rather be dead? Once again, we’re coming back to protecting innocent life,” Regier told Montana PBS.
Supporters cited statements from politicians from other states, most famously comments made by former Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam in 2019. It was in the context of a bill proposed by State Delegate Kathy Tran that she evidently conceded would legalize abortion through all 40 weeks of pregnancy.
Democrat Northam, a pediatric neurologist, was asked about the bill in his monthly appearance on WTOP radio. He responded
“If a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen. The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated, if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.”
Northham backtracked, saying he was talking about babies with disabilities or terminal conditions.
Michels quoted State Sen. Tom McGillvray, a Republican, said Montana’s referendum “simply is seeking to nip that in the bud in this state so that would never happen.”