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With Kids' Health Under MT’s Belt, More “Human Rights” Advances Eyed

December 29, 2008

Helena, MT – Gaining health insurance for almost all Montana children was chalked up as a "human rights" victory for 2008 when a plan was approved by voters. Human rights advocates now are working on more issues they want to see addressed in the upcoming legislative session. One of them is the death penalty.

Although an effort to abolish the death penalty ultimately failed in the last session, the Senate did approve a bill that replaced the death penalty with a life sentence. Lawmakers were concerned about the cost, wrongful convictions and changing public sentiment about putting people to death.

Kim Abbott, an organizer with the Montana Human Rights Network, supports further legislative action in 2009.

"We're hopeful that society is evolving past that death view. Recent polling has shown support is dwindling for the death penalty."

She hopes the state also will address other human rights that she says can be affected by the economic downtown, such as basic services and standard of living.

"You have the right to housing, you have the right to medical care, you have the right to food, and you have the right to make a living wage."

She and other human rights advocates want the state to play a role in making sure all Montanans enjoy those basic rights. That role could cost money, however, and critics point out it could lead to tax increases.

Deborah Smith/Deb Courson, Public News Service - MT