Montana to Vote on Parental Notification Law

Come the November election, Montana voters will decide whether or not a measure that would mandate that most minors must notify her parents if she plans to have an abortion becomes law.

Known as Legislative Referendum 120, if enacted the measure would make it a crime for a physician to perform an abortion on a minor who is under 16 without parental notification.

LR 120 provides an exemption to this rule for medical emergencies, a waiver provided by a youth court in a proceeding that is sealed, or a waiver provided by the parents or legal guardians of the minor.

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Jeff Laszloffy, president of the Montana Family Foundation, told The Christian Post that the referendum was years in the making.

"We've been bringing this bill up for almost 15 years or more to the legislature but it's never been passed," said Laszloffy, who noted some of the comprises in the ballot language.

"Parental notification for minors 16 and under. And there is a judicial bypass mechanism in there if the girl has got a family situation that won't allow her to go to her parents."

According to Laszloffy, in 1995 the Montana Legislature passed "a similar provision" to what LC-120 prescribes. The provision was challenged in court at both the state and federal level.

While it prevailed before the Supreme Court, at the state level it was declared unconstitutional because the Montana state constitution grants "rights available to an adult to minors if there is not a compelling state interest to disallow those rights."

LC 120 is opposed by Montanans for Safe and Healthy Families, a group of organizations that includes the state chapter of NARAL Pro-Choice America.

In a column posted on NARAL Montana's website, the anti-LC-120 organization deemed the referendum proposal "dangerous."

"No law can mandate healthy family communication where it does not already exist. While mandatory parental-notice laws like these may sound reasonable, in the real world, LR 120 would put young women in danger," reads the column.

"The measure would require young women to notify a parent before accessing abortion care, even if they come from violent, abusive, or neglectful homes. We strongly oppose this measure and urge pro-choice Montanans to reject it at the polls on Election Day."

LR 120 has strong support in Montana. According to a Lee Newspapers poll conducted in September, 65 percent of voters support LR 120, 28 percent oppose, and 7 percent are undecided.

Laszloffy of MFF told CP that he was not surprised by the poll and talked of a recent poll conducted by Montana State University that also reported 70.3 percent supporting LR-120 versus 21.5 percent opposed.

"I think it proves me point that parents want to be involved in their children's lives and the current situation in Montana places government squarely between parents and their kids," said Laszloffy. "In Montana we require parental notification for tattoos, for ear piercings, for a child to go to a tanning salon. But for some reason, we have made an exception for invasive surgery, in this case abortion."

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