Lawmaker Seeks to up Penalty for Abuse of Pregnant Women

In 2013, a bill making fetal homicide a felony became law

By Justin Franz

HELENA — A Montana legislator proposed Friday that domestic abusers receive additional punishment if the victim is pregnant.

Rep. Keith Regier, R-Kalispell, said he introduced House Bill 197 to address domestic abuse involving unborn children.

The bill would require that a minimum of two years in state prison be added to any punishment for using seriously harmful force if the victim was known to be pregnant.

Regier, who introduced the bill in the House Judiciary Committee, said it could cover varying degrees and types of abuse including physical, psychological and financial.

Different forms of the bill’s concept have been previously introduced.

In 2013, a bill making fetal homicide a felony became law. It included exemptions for medical complications and abortions.

In 2009, a bill similar to Regier’s faced political opposition based on its use of the word “fetus.”

Gregg Trude, director of Right to Life Montana, said HB 197 was worded to avoid political riffs.

“This bill is about domestic abuse only,” Trude said.

Maggie Moran, director of NARAL Pro-Choice Montana, said the organization opposed previous versions of the bill that “politicized the issue.” She spoke in favor of HB 197, saying it enhances a woman’s ability to choose to safely carry out a pregnancy.

No one spoke in opposition.