Montana ‘Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act’ (HB 500)
This law was last updated on May 8, 2019
HB 500 would prohibit a person from performing, inducing, or attempting an abortion when a fetus has a probable post-fertilization age of 20 or more weeks, unless it’s necessary to prevent a serious health risk to the pregnant person.
Current state law prohibits abortion after viability. This bill would prohibit abortion “on an unborn child capable of feeling pain.” The bill includes junk science that a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks post-fertilization.
Except in cases of medical emergency, physicians would be required to first determine the probable post-fertilization age of a fetus prior to performing an abortion. An abortion would be prohibited if the probable post-fertilization age of the fetus is 20 or more weeks.
If an abortion is necessary to prevent a serious health risk to the pregnant person, the physician would be required to terminate the pregnancy in the manner that provides the best opportunity for the fetus to survive unless it would pose a greater risk either of the death of the pregnant person or of the substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function than would other available methods.
A person who purposely or knowingly performs, induces, or attempts an abortion in violation of this provision would be guilty of a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
The bill would allow the individual upon whom an abortion has been performed or induced in violation of this provision, or the father of the fetus who was the subject of the abortion to maintain an action against the person who performed or induced the abortion in a purposeful or knowing violation for actual and punitive damages.
The bill provides a cause of action for injunctive relief against a person who has purposely or knowingly violated this provision may be maintained by:
- the person upon whom an abortion was performed, induced, or attempted or, if a minor, the person’s parent or guardian;
- a person who is the spouse of the individual upon whom an abortion has been performed, induced, or attempted;
- a prosecuting attorney with appropriate jurisdiction; or
- the attorney general.
The injunction would prevent the physician from performing, inducing, or attempting additional abortions in violation of this provision.
Based on model legislation drafted by the National Right to Life Committee.
Identical to SB 329, which passed the Montana State Legislature in 2017, but was vetoed by Gov. Steve Bullock (D).
Similar to HB 479, which failed to pass in 2015.
2/15/19 – Introduced.
3/29/19 – Passed the House by a 59-39 vote.
4/18/19 – Passed the Senate by a 31-19 vote.
5/7/19 – Vetoed by Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock.