By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent
WASHINGTON D.C, USA (Worthy News) -- A new bill could give citizens in the least populated American state the right to constitutionally define a person as a human being "from conception", as part of a national movement to reduce abortion rates, Worthy News monitored Tuesday, February 26.
If House Bill 406 passes, voters in Montana will decide in next year's elections whether or not to amend the state's constitution and recognize a human being "at all stages of life", from the moment of conception till death, "regardless of age, health, level of functioning, or condition of dependency."
If approved by Montana voters, the amendment will go into effect Jan. 1, 2011, senators said.
"The whole point of what I am trying to do is define when a person is a person," explained Republican State Senator Dan McGee. "I believe and I think probably a majority of Montanans believe that life begins at conception."
Montana is among seven American states considering bills or initiatives that would provide legal protection to all persons from the moment of conception.
The 'personhood' proposals make no reference to abortion, but they are viewed as challenging the legal reasoning behind Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court court ruling that legalized abortion in the United States.
Before Montana's action, North Dakota passed a bill last week, 51-41, that says "a human being includes any organism with the genome of homo sapiens." No state legislature had ever passed a person hood bill.
Pro-lifers in Mississippi -- one of the nation's most pro-life states -- are expected to begin a "personhood petition" drive soon, and a similar initiative has begun in the state of Oregon.
Legislators in Maryland, Alabama and South Carolina are also sponsoring 'personhood' bills.
The initiatives, described as a "new movement" by Baptist Press news agency, comes months after voters in Colorado voted down Amendment 48, which would have defined a person as "any human being from the moment of conception," failed at the ballot, 73-27 percent.
It was the first time in the nation's history that voters considered a personhood law. Pro-life activists have promoted this legislation, saying all persons have the right to be born and to live in freedom.
However pro-choice groups say it will limit the possibilities of women to seek abortions in a medically save environment. (With additional reporting by Worthy News' Stefan J. Bos).