A reality based independent journal of observation & analysis, serving the Flathead Valley & Montana since 2006. © James Conner.

7 April 2017

Rep. Derek Skees’ Thou shalt give birth to thy rapist’s baby
constitutional referendum won’t be on the 2018 ballot

House Bill 595, introduced by Rep. Derek Skees (R-Lakeside), is an attempt to amend Montana’s constitution by referendum to declare that a person becomes a person at the moment of conception:

Section 1. Article II, section 17, of The Constitution of the State of Montana is amended to read:

Section 17. Due process of law.

  1. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.

  2. As used in this section, the word “person” applies to all members of the species Homo sapiens at any stage of development, including the stage of fertilization or conception, regardless of age, health, level of functioning, or condition of dependency.

  3. The legislature shall implement this section by appropriate legislation.

If adopted, the amendment would outlaw the morning after pill, and all abortions, even abortions to save the mother’s life. It’s the holy grail of anti-abortion absolutists. It’s also political grandstanding, political posturing, political strutting, and approximately ten votes short of making the ballot.

On 31 March, HB-595 passed the MT House 58–42, with two Republicans, Bruce Grubbs of Bozeman, and Daniel Zolnikov of Billing, voting Nay, and Democrat Jonathan Windy Boy, Box Elder, voting for it.

HB-595 will pass the MT Senate, again on the functional equivalent of a straight party line vote, but as there are only 32 Republicans in the MT Senate, the bill won’t receive the 42 votes it needs to be placed on the 2018 general election ballot as a legislative constitutional referendum:

Article XIV, Section 8. Amendment by legislative referendum. Amendments to this constitution may be proposed by any member of the legislature. If adopted by an affirmative roll call vote of two-thirds of all the members thereof, whether one or more bodies, the proposed amendment shall be submitted to the qualified electors at the next general election. If approved by a majority of the electors voting thereon, the amendment shall become a part of this constitution on the first day of July after certification of the election returns unless the amendment provides otherwise.

Skees and his co-sponsors know HB-595 won’t make the ballot, and they knew it before the legislature convened. Nevertheless, they’re trying to bring the Montana Constitution into theological compliance with the Catholic Church and other anti-abortion sectarian organizations.

HB-595 is also an attempt to force Democratic and pro-choice Republican legislators to go on record as opposing what the Bill’s proponents will say is God’s definition of personhood. In other words, the bill is part of a strategy to win elections.

What’s next? Trying to outlaw contraception.