Abortion, Marijuana Measures Fail to Make Ballot

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – Backers of pro-marijuana and anti-abortion measures in Montana have failed to get enough signatures to get the proposed constitutional initiatives on the November ballot, organizers said.

Lee Newspapers of Montana reports that Montana Secretary of State Linda McCulloch also said backers of the two measures didn’t appear to have enough signatures by the Friday evening deadline.

McCulloch’s office on Friday said Constitutional Initiative 110 to decriminalize the sale, use and possession of marijuana by adults had collected about 18,000 of the necessary 48,674 signatures.

The office said backers of Constitutional Initiative 108 to change the Montana constitution to define life as beginning at conception had by Friday afternoon collected about 23,500 of the needed 48,674 signatures. The so-called “personhood” initiative was intended to prompt a legal challenge to Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that established a legal right to abortion.

“Montana ProLife Coalition will continue to pursue personhood for the unborn,” said Annie Bukacek, a Kalispell physician and president of the group. “Personhood is the only type of pro-life legislation that seeks to protect all innocent human life.”

Julianna Crowley, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Montana, said it’s the third time backers of such an initiative have failed to get enough signatures.

“Once again, anti-choice activists showed themselves to be out of the mainstream on issues of reproductive health and privacy,” Crowley said. “Montanans don’t want to roll the dice when it comes to their constitutional rights or put the health and safety of the women in their lives in jeopardy — and that’s exactly what this amendment would do.”

As for the marijuana initiative, backers conceded they didn’t get enough signatures. They said they had to change the proposal’s language at least three times due to the objections of state officials, and that shortened the time they had to collect signatures.

“We didn’t make it,” said Barb Trego of East Helena, CI-110’s sponsor. “We just ran out of time. We just got going too late.”

She said another attempt is likely.

“We’re not giving up,” she said. “When we do it the next time, we’ll be more prepared. We already have the language.”

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