Senate Bill 282 sets fetus viability, the ability of the fetus to survive outside of the uterus, at 24 weeks. If the woman’s life is at risk, her doctor would need to induce labor or deliver the fetus by caesarean section, and do “everything medically possibly to support the fetus,” according to Missoulian. Abortions after 24 weeks would be a felony.
Republican Sen. Albert Olszewski, the sponsor of the bill, said its intent was to ensure a woman whose pregnancy puts her life is at risk terminates the pregnancy “with the safest medical procedures available,” according to Great Falls Tribune.
Other supporters said the bill avoids debate by focusing on only viable fetuses and said new medical technology is capable of supporting fetuses sooner than Roe v. Wade‘s accepted viability between 24 and 28 weeks. According to Slate, however, fetuses born in the 24th week of pregnancy only have a 42 percent chance of survival, whereas a fetus born at 30 weeks has a 90 percent chance of survival.
At the bill’s hearing, opponents cited cases that make the bill unconstitutional. SK Rossi, director of advocacy and public policy at ACLU Montana, said Planned Parenthood v. Danforth and Colautti v. Franklin prohibited states from establishing a standard for fetal viability.
Rossi also cited the decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, in which the Supreme Court ruled that states cannot use the argument of “protecting the health of a woman” to shut down abortion clinics without evidence.
Martha Stahl, president of Planned Parenthood of Montana, said the bill “replaces physician’s judgment with political ideology” and is dangerous for women.
The Senate committee is expected to vote on the bill soon, possibly this week.