Montana GOP lawmaker says woman's uterus 'serves no specific purpose to her life'

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Montana state Republican Rep. Brad Tschida stands by his claim that a 'womb' is only good as a 'sanctuary.'

In a recent email to fellow Republicans, Montana state Republican Rep. Brad Tschida said a woman's uterus serves no purpose to her own life or well-being, but rather, "The womb is a place set aside for another person who arrives as a result of a choice of a man and a woman to procreate."

According to NBC News affiliate KTVH in Helena, Montana, and the Daily Montanan, in the email, which Tschida sent to more than 100 members of the Legislature, the former Montana House majority leader and current candidate for the state Senate, wrote: "The womb is the only organ in a woman's body that serves no specific purpose to her life or well-being. It is truly a sanctuary."

Tschida does not have any specific information about his views on abortion on his campaign website; however, he reposted a meme on his Facebook page on Dec. 17, 2020, since deleted, that read, "For a country to kill an entire generation in the womb but tells adults to wear masks to 'save lives', Your words are a joke and embarrassment." On Dec. 1, 2019, he shared a post by Billings MT 40 Days for Life, since labeled as potentially misleading by Facebook, claiming falsely, "After 20 weeks fertilization age, it is never necessary to intentionally kill the fetal human being in order to save a woman's life. In cases where the mother's life actually is in danger in the latter half of pregnancy, there is not time for an abortion, because an abortion typically is a two to three-day process."

MTN News in Great Falls reported he "wasn't opposed" to calling a special session of the Montana Legislature to work on restricting abortion in the state, but said he thought his constituents had other priorities such as gas prices, inflation, and border security.

"Rep. Tschida's attitude towards women's bodies is disqualifying," said Sheila Hogan, executive director of the Montana Democratic Party. "If Montana Republicans talk about 'wombs' like this, they sure as hell don't deserve to legislate them."

Tschida is running for the seat in Montana state Senate District 49, which Democrats won by a narrow margin in the last two elections. The seat has been held for the last two cycles by Sen. Diane Sands, who is one of the state's "fiercest advocates for women's rights and equality," according to Hadley Stack, the communications director of the Montana Democratic Party.

With Sands leaving office this year due to term limits, Tschida is running against Democratic candidate state Rep. Willis Curdy, who has spoken frequently in defense of reproductive rights. Curdy said Tschida's comments were "creepy" and "ludicrous": "He is stepping into a place where he's telling women their bodies don't count, or parts of their body don't count."

"I'm not going to apologize for saying that," Tschida told MTN News. "I think that's exactly what it's there for. It welcomes in a new life and that's what it's there to do, to nurture and sustain that life."

While abortion remains legal in Montana, GOP lawmakers and Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte have celebrated restrictions that they have been able to pass in the state Legislature. All have been challenged in court, however, and remain pending on the basis of the Montana Supreme Court's decision in Armstrong v. State in 1999 that

the personal autonomy component of this right [of privacy] broadly guarantees each individual the right to make medical judgments affecting her or his bodily integrity and health in partnership with a chosen health care provider free from the interference of the government, except in very limited circumstances not at issue here. More narrowly, we hold that Article II, Section 10, protects a woman's right of procreative autonomy — here, the right to seek and to obtain a specific lawful medical procedure, a pre-viability abortion, from a health care provider of her choice. We also hold that the government has failed to demonstrate a compelling state interest for infringing upon these rights of privacy.

"The right of privacy is permanent," James Nelson, the former Montana Supreme Court justice who wrote the unanimous opinion in Armstrong, told the Montana Free Press in 2021. "The concept that a woman's right of choice is governed by her values and by the health care information she gets from her health care provider. That, in my view and in the court's view at the time, was permanent."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.