News & Updates
Think about it: major surgery without anesthesia. It would be horrifying of course and yet, currently, it’s not illegal, at least not for the unborn. Modern medicine can in many ways be a genuine miracle. With modern techniques, it is possible for surgeons to perform amazing procedures on fetuses while they are still in the womb. A baby that might otherwise be born with a birth defect or not be born alive at all, can instead be saved, but of course, the same modern methods that make inter-uterine surgery possible, also make possible the American tragedy of abortion.
That’s why House Bill 479 by Representive Al Olszewski is such a great piece of legislation. This bill mandates that surgery performed in-utero on an unborn baby at at least 20 weeks of gestational age, requires that the fetus be given anesthesia. Representative Olszewski is an orthopedic surgeon who treats people in emergency rooms, so he is eminently qualified to speak out on the issue and we’re grateful that he led the charge on this bill.
Surgery to help save an unborn fetus is a medical miracle made possible by modern technology, but abortion is the dark side of that equation. This bill would require that abortion providers would have to use anesthesia as well and would also have to report to the government about how they do so. Now I don’t believe that this family broadcast is an appropriate place to go into detail about how late-term abortions are performed. It is a horrifying practice and one that I pray will one day end in America. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened yet, but until it does, at the very least we should require anesthesia.
Some people say that there is no scientific consensus about whether unborn babies can feel pain. Some people believe that they don’t; others believe that they do. Even among scientists there has been some disagreement, but there are studies that clearly show that fetal pain is real. In his remarks supporting his bill, Representative Olszewski stated that those parts of the nervous system necessary to experience pain, can develop by 20 weeks of gestation. To me, consensus is not the issue. Waiting for some scientists to agree is not the issue. If there is any chance at all that an unborn baby might feel pain during a surgical procedure, then anesthesia is a moral imperative.
This “Fetal Pain Bill” has already passed the Montana Legislature because you, and other Montana families like you, have helped make that happen. Your phone calls and emails got this landmark bill through the legislature. Now, it’s time to take it across the goal line. House Bill 479 is headed to the governor’s desk and he will be under a lot of pressure to veto it. Planned Parenthood and NARAL are already flooding the capital with money and lobbyists to convince the governor that the idea of requiring an anesthesia for surgical procedures on a fetus is a bad idea. Apparently to Planned Parenthood, the abortion industries profit margins are more important than common decency.
That’s why I’m reaching out to Montana families today. If you are able to contact the Governor’s office, this is the time to do it. Please call (406)444-3111 and ask Governor Bullock to sign House Bill 479, the bill to require anesthesia for surgical procedures involving a fetus. If you prefer to contact the Governor by email, you can do that too. Please visit our website at montanafamily.org, click on the button for “Montana Legislature” and you will find a link to contact the Governor by email. Again, ask the Governor to please sign House Bill 479.
One of the hardest, yet most valuable, lessons for new legislators is to gain perspective before making the tough decisions. There are times when the answer to a bill or question before a committee seems obvious, until you are presented with more information. Unfortunately, more often than not, critical decisions are reduced to little more than knee-jerk reactions to emotional testimony. Rather than making decisions while they are down in the weeds, experienced policy makers take the time to climb up to 30,000 feet so they can gain perspective, surveying the issue in terms of its history, current need, and long term ramifications. Only then, are the best decisions made for the good of the greatest number of people.
One recent example was the push to allow boys who think they are girls to play on girls’ high school sports teams. Those on the left said, “What can it hurt?” They painted it as a local Montana issue, until it was pointed out that this is a top-down push by national organizations and Montana was just the latest target. In states like Wisconsin that already have these policies, boys are specifically allowed to use girls’ bathrooms and showers and they are allowed to room with female team members when the team is traveling. This is what we mean by perspective. It’s important to know where these policies come from, how they are playing out in other states, and what the long-term goals are of the groups that are pushing them.
Back in January, when the issue was front and center in Montana, we ran a poll and found that 83% of Montanans oppose the policy. It was then shelved by the Montana High School Athletic Association, but the story doesn’t end there. On February 27th, the Montana Senate killed Senate Bill 179. Section 9 of that bill specifically allowed people to use lavatory, bathing and dressing facilities based on their perceived gender identity. That language, coupled with other parts of the bill, would have forced transgender athletes to play on opposite sex teams, even if 83% of Montana parents thought it was a bad idea. This is what we mean by long-term ramifications.
Thank goodness the legislature killed the bill, but that’s still not the end of the story because the other side doesn’t give up. Running concurrently with the transgender high school athletic push was an effort by the Montana School Boards Association to implement transgender and nontraditional gender identity policies in school districts across the state. These would begin in elementary schools and would also impact high school gym class and athletics. Many districts, including the Laurel School District, had refused to implement these policies, but in other districts, they are still being considered.
One of those is Kalispell, where the school district will take up the issue once again at this afternoon’s subcommittee meeting. If you think this is a bad idea, then it’s time to speak up. Perspective shows that this isn’t just a local school district issue, it begins at the national level and is pushed down through the state level and finally to the district level. This afternoon’s meeting (April 8, 2015) takes place at 4:00 pm in the Kalispell School District’s offices at 233 1st Ave East. It’s time for Kalispell residents to show up in person or inundate the school board with phone calls and emails, because as the saying goes, “The world is run by those who show up.”
Montana’s legislative session is entering its home stretch and its crunch time. The deadline is drawing nearer, and the outcome is still in doubt. Will Montana end telemedicine abortions (better known as skype abortions) where the doctor isn’t even in the room? Will Montana require that fetuses who can feel pain be given anesthesia before they undergo a surgical procedure such an abortion? Will churches retain the ability to keep their tithes confidential?
As we come down to the wire, those questions and more remain unanswered. Here’s the lineup of bills that are alive and dead.
House Bill 587 – Require That A Medical Practitioner Be Physically Present During an Abortion.
This bill seems like common sense. Abortion is a serious medical procedure with serious possible side effects. It’s not OK for the doctor to “phone it in.” But despite how obvious it seems to us, Planned Parenthood and NARAL have come out in force against this bill. This bill has passed the House of Representatives, but is now before the much more liberal state senate.
House Bill 479 – Requiring Anesthesia before Surgical Procedures For Fetuses.
At 20 weeks gestation, a fetus can feel pain. So requiring anesthesia before they undergo surgery seems like more than just common sense. It seems inhumanly cruel to do otherwise. And yet, once again, planned parenthood and NARAL rushed to oppose the bill. They’re afraid it would cut into the profit margins of the abortion-industries business model. This bill is halfway through the process and still alive.
Senate Bill 289 – the so called “Dark Money” Bill.
Our Governor and his allies proposed SB 289 under the guise of stopping anonymous money in politics. But in fact, the bill doesn’t do that. Instead, it’s so poorly written that its definition includes churches, and the requirement to report election expenses might force your church to post your tithe on the Internet. This bill is still waiting for final passage.
One the school choice front, we still have three great school choice bills moving through the Legislature.
House Bill 596 – Establishes Charter Schools in Montana.
It would allow families, trade associations, or anyone else the opportunity to form a charter school that might be a better environment for some kids.
House Bill 322 – Which Would Establish Education Savings Accounts.
This bill would apply to students with special needs, and to students who have a parent who was killed in the line of duty in the military. It would let them choose an alternative to their local public school.
House Bill 433 – Creates a Tuition Tax Credit.
If a family pays to send their student to a private school, they could deduct part of the tuition from their state income taxes. These great bills are alive and moving through the process, but it’s a long, uphill road from here.
As for the bad bills, we’ve been able to defeat most of them. Among them, a statewide sexual orientation gender identity law, a bill to make assisted suicide legal, a bill to let the government regulate church youth programs even when they aren’t using taxpayer dollars, and two different bills to write same sex marriage into Montana law. While the majority of the Legislature focuses on the fiscal bills in the final days of the session, our team remains vigilant. For us, it’s all about protecting faith, family and freedom for our children and our grandchildren.
What part of “make no law” don’t they understand? You would think the first amendment is pretty clear. As far as religion is concerned, it says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
To me, that’s pretty simple. The government can’t establish an official state church like the Church of England, and the government can’t interfere with people freely exercising their religion.
The courts used to interpret that to mean, laws or other government actions that impacted the free exercise of religion required what was called “a compelling state interest.” In other words, there had to be a really good reason before the government could come anywhere near prohibiting someone’s free exercise of religion.
That’s the way we operated for a long time. Then, in 1990, the Supreme Court significantly curtailed that “compelling state interest” rule. They made it a lot easier for the government to restrict the free exercise of religion.
In a thundering, overwhelming bipartisan vote, Congress responded by passing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. In this law they declared that yes, the “compelling interest” standard should be restored. They declared that government must have the strongest possible case before they interfere with religion. By a vote of 97 to 3, the U.S. Senate said that only in the direst of circumstances could the government infringe on the free exercise of religion.
But there’s a problem: The Religious Freedom Restoration Act only applies to federal laws. Across the country, many states have responded by passing state level religious freedom restoration acts.
Now, the Montana Legislature is ready to join that growing movement. Representative Carl Glimm of Kalispell has introduced House Bill 615, the Montana Religious Freedom Restoration Act. This bill is actually a ballot referendum that if passed will go to the people for a vote in 2016.
The bill is designed to strike a sensible balance between religious freedom and competing governmental interests. It protects everyone’s free exercise of religion while still allowing that, if there is a compelling government interest, it can be possible to pass a law that burdens the free exercise of religion. It also provides clear definitions of compelling state interest and of free exercise of religion.
Equally important, the bill makes clear that in Montana, the Constitutional protection to exercise your religious freedoms freely not only applies to the federal government, but to the state government, cities, towns, counties, and every other level of bureaucracy.
The free exercise of religion is one of the most important American principles. James Madison wrote, “The religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate.” George Washington himself said “every person may here worship God according to the dictates of his own heart.”
If you support Free Exercise of Religion, please come to the Capitol and say so. This Bill will be heard next Tuesday, March 24th at 8:00 am in the House Judiciary Committee and we hope to see bus-loads of supporters!
There are many ideas of the American founding where good men may differ and there are many aspects of our founding where the exact meaning has been lost to history. This is not one of them. I hope that all Montana families will urge their Legislators to support HB 615.
Every day I end this broadcast by telling you that your input makes a difference and today I will give you several examples to prove my point. For the past two weeks we have asked you to call your Legislators. You did and now it’s time to savor the victories. Yesterday we told you about House Bill 477 a bill by Representative Jerry Bennett of Libby that would ban assisted suicide. It would treat doctors the same as any other person – if one person helps another kill themselves, then that first person has committed a crime. It doesn’t matter whether they’re a doctor or not. After a series of ups and downs, that bill finally passed third reading in the house by a narrow 51-48 margin. That means it’s on its way to the Senate and Montana is one step closer to protecting ourselves from the dangerous path of assisted suicide.
Another bill supported by the Montana Family Foundation has passed both houses of the Legislature. House Bill 197 by Representative Keith Regier is a major step forward in Montana’s protection of innocent life. It establishes higher criminal penalties for assault on a pregnant woman because pregnant women and unborn children deserve extra legal protection. This bill is on its way to the Governor to be signed and we have every hope that it will soon become law.
Representative Regier has another bill moving through the process that will also be a major victory for life. That one is known as House Bill 587 and it requires that a doctor be present when an abortion is performed, it bans tele-med or Skype abortions. Abortion is a serious medical procedure. It can have side effects ranging from bleeding to even death. It’s not to be taken lightly. Having a doctor present is just common sense. That’s why the Montana Family Foundation worked hard to support HB 587.
The good news is, HB 587 passed second reading today in the House of Representatives. While it’s not a final victory, it’s a major step forward. We have every reason to believe that this bill will win final passage in the House of Representatives, perhaps as early as today.
Another important victory for Montana families came in the defeat of a very bad bill. Senate Bill 170 would have removed every gender-specific reference from Montana’s tax code. It would have taken the words husband and wife out, and replaced them with terms like “qualified individual.” And as for “married,” or “married filing jointly,” those words are replaced with “two individuals.” Our tax code would have become a complicated bureaucratic mess, and all in the service of one unspoken agenda: preparing Montana for same sex marriage.
The Montana Family Foundation strongly opposed that bill, and I’m proud to report that we were joined by families all across Montana. Mothers, fathers, and married couples all reached out to contact their legislators and ask them to oppose this bill. And in the end, we won! Thanks to your hard work, the bill was tabled in committee.
But our work isn’t done yet. Waiting in the wings are a number of school choice bills including bills for charter schools, tuition tax credits, education savings accounts, and even more school choice options. For Montanans whose children are struggling in public schools, they can provide an important avenue for success. With your help – these bills will soon become law because as I always say “this government is your government, and your input does make a difference.”