Montana’s CI-108

November 6, 2011

As promised, I’m posting about CI-108, the latest personhood amendment attempt from the MT anti-choicers.  I’ll be honest though. It’s actually difficult for me to get fired up about it this time around.  Montana’s citizens have rejected similar attempts before.  None of the previous initiatives have gathered enough signatures.

My concern, however, is that I’m not the only one having a hard time getting fired up, and the signature gatherers will be able to use that to their advantage this time around.  Are they just reintroducing the same initiative over and over to wear us down?  It might not be a bad strategy.

CI-108 would be a particularly dangerous amendment, if it made it to the ballot.  It modifies the Due Process clause of the state constitution to define “person” as anything from a fertilized egg onward.  And you may recall the the Due Process clause reads “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.”

Ponder that for a moment, if you will.  Replace the word person with fertilized egg, zygote, embryo or fetus.   No fertilized egg shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.   Can you see where this is going?

It is clearly a method of outlawing abortion or at least making it so difficult to obtain that it is effectively outlawed.  It could even be used to outlaw the use of certain types of birth control, including Plan B, IUDs, or anything that might prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg.

And even though many people think this is a bit ridiculous it could actually bring about a situation where miscarriages had to be investigated to determine if they qualified as negligent homicide or something.  Did the woman drink or smoke, exercise too much or too little?   Did she eat sushi that included raw fish?  What about unpasteurized cheese or anything else known to be harmful to fetal development?

These amendment attempts keep cropping up all over the place.  I believe Mississippi and Colorado are also targets at the moment.

My sincere hope is that the initiative will fail to qualify for the ballot again due to lack of signatures.  I haven’t quite figured out when the deadline for submission is, though.  As always, I encourage everyone to be very aware of what it is you’re being asked to sign.  We’ve had instances of petitioners being very deceitful in the past.

I’ll share more information as I find it.



For any of you interested in the CI-102 petition, Montana Cowgirl over at Left In the West has posted some very interesting and potentially disturbing info about the folks behind CI-102.  Please check out her post.

An update on the bills I discussed a few days ago, in this post.

Would you believe that Sen. Shockley’s bill protecting clinic protesters is ready for its third and final reading in the MT Senate? Well, it is. Please note that should this bill become law, it carries with it a fine of up to $100.

Both SB406 and SB046 passed the Senate and are scheduled for hearings before the House Judiciary committee on March 13th. Here are the committee members. If you write to any of them, and I hope you do, remember to ask that your comments be shared with the whole committee.

Also of interest is SB 236, Sen. Wanzenreid’s bill to abolish the death penalty, which is scheduled to be heard before House Judiciary on March 25th. I support this bill and I hope it passes, though I’m not sure it will make it past the Governor’s desk without being vetoed, even if it makes it through the House.

And remember, you can listen to or watch committee hearings and sessions whenever a particular bill interests you. Audio and video are also generally posted to the archives by the next day.

I love this. I love Feministing and I’ve always loved the Friday Feminist Fuck You segments. I’m not exactly proud that Montana is mentioned right off the bat this week, but I agree completely with what Miriam and Ann are saying in this installment: Anti-choicers Gone Wild!

Allow me to add some Montana specific details:

There are three bills right now that have my hackles up. First are a lovely pair of bills that have passed the Senate and will be transmitted to the House. SB 406 (Constitutionally Define a Person) and SB 46 (Protection of Unborn Life as a Compelling State Interest). You can find the bill info (who voted for or against) here SB406, SB46 and the actual bills here: SB406, SB46.

Why are these bills bad? Well, for one thing, they directly contravene the Montana Constitution’s right to privacy. Article II, Section 10 of the Montana State Constitution states: The right of individual privacy is essential to the well-being of a free society and shall not be infringed without the showing of a compelling state interest. (See what the sponsor of those bills did there?) Medical decisions between a woman and her doctor are most certainly private.

Also, defining a fetus as a person grants full rights to a fetus. This could potentially cause all kinds of craziness, including women being investigated for criminal endangerment in the case of a miscarriage. Did she eat right? Did she take any drugs that were bad for her fetus (but possibly necessary for herself)? Did she knowingly do anything that could possibly have endangered her fetus?

I’d also like to point out that Montana voters already pretty much rejected exactly this kind of legislation by failing to provide sufficient signatures for CI 100 last year.

Sen. Shockley has also introduced a rather entertaining bill, SB 497, which protects Clinic Protesters from being harassed the people entering a clinic. (Yeah, you read that right. Apparently the PROTESTERS need protection from the people entering the clinic.) The folks over at 4&20 Blackbirds have written about it. Again here is the bill info and the bill language. This bill is still in the Senate, as of this writing.

I am hoping that all of these bills fail in the state House. In the event that they pass, I have a hard time imagining that Gov. Schweitzer will sign them.

However, I don’t think it’s a good idea for any of us to sit back and expect them to fail. We must all contact our Representatives and let them know how we feel about these bills.

I know who my Senator and Representative are, and I’m lucky enough that they tend to agree with me on most things. However, if you’re not sure who your Senator and Rep are, it’s easy to find out and even easier to contact them.

1. You need to know your full zip code, which you can find here.
2. Using that zip code, the folks at Project Vote Smart will tell you who your Senator and Representatives are (scroll down).
3. Once you have that info you can go here to use the handy online form to contact your representatives. OR
3a. Between sessions you can go here to find their direct e-mail addresses.

I cannot overstate how important it is to contact your representatives to let them know that you want them to vote against these bills. Please write to them right away, even if (especially if?) you’re lucky enough to have representatives who agree with you.

And I’d like to say Thank YOU to the lovely ladies at Feministing, especially Miriam and Ann, for this week’s installment of Friday Feministing Fuck You. I hope my fellow Montanans will see it and contact their legislators right away.