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Montana Right to Life Initiative (2008)

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A Right to Life Initiative, also known as CI-100 and the "Montana Personhood Amendment", was a failed initiative that proposed to amend the Montana Constitution's Declaration of Rights to provide a right to life and extends the right to include all persons from the moment of conception. Proponents of the initiative failed to gather the required 44,615 valid signatures by June 20, 2008. The proposed initiative would have added a definition of "person" to the state's constitution that includes human life at all stages of development, including fertilization, regardless of age, health, level of functioning or condition of dependency.[1][2]


Rick Jore--a pro-life Constitution Party member of the Montana State Assembly--was sponsoring the measure. He has said of CI-100, "Our approach goes right to the heart of this debate: Are we dealing with human life, or are we not? If [an unborn child] is indeed human life, which I strongly believe it is, then arguments on privacy, health care, et cetera, need to be focused on and in the context of two lives."[3]

Jore organized a group, Life for Montana, to run a petition drive in order to gather 44,615 signatures by the state's petition deadline.

In late February, Montana's two Catholic bishops announced that they would not support the measure, saying that the initiative was not the best strategy for eliminating abortion.[4] Their reasoning is that if the measure passed, it would be overturned in the courts as unconstitutional. A new group, "Catholic Christians Supporting CI-100," has formed and in an open letter has urged the two bishops to reconsider.[5]


The American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood of Montana, NARAL's Montana affiliate, and the Montana Human Rights Network were opposed to the measure.

Stacey Anderson, Director of Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood of Montana, said, “This amendment jeopardizes the health and well-being of every Montana woman struggling to maintain her own health during pregnancy in the face of unforeseen medical complications and chronic health conditions. It places women and their physicians in the untenable position of always putting the life of the fetus before the health of the woman.”[6]

NARAL Pro-Choice Montana believed that the amendment would have been far reaching and result in investigation into miscarriages, could have eliminated birth control and in vitro fertilization because it gave rights to fertilized eggs.[7]

Planned Parenthood and NARAL told a television station they'd have volunteers out in force at polling places during the state's June 4 primary election asking people not to sign the petition. Allyson Hagan said, "We actually think there is an opportunity to keep this from qualifying for the ballot. And we do have volunteers who are trained to be out and talking pro-actively to people about CI-100. And we hope people will decline to sign the petition."[8]

Signature-gatherers were asked to leave Will James Middle School, a polling place, during the June primary. Diane Wilkinson, one of the petitioners inside the school, said they were told to leave after a police officer said their display was a hazard.[9]


CI-100 failed to make the ballot due to a lack of signatures. According to opponents of the initiative, the supporters managed to gather under 22,000 signatures, less than half the required amount.[10][11] Montana NARAL has said that the initiative's failure has "sent a message: A dangerous and divisive amendment like CI-100 has no place in our state."[12]

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