Demonstrators hold banners in an abortion rights rally outside of the Supreme Court as the justices hear oral arguments in the June Medical Services v. Russo case on March 4, 2020 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images)
Rep. Brad Tschida said in an email to legislators on Monday that a woman’s uterus serves “no specific purpose to her life or well-being.”
In the email, first reported by KTVH and obtained by the Daily Montanan, the Missoula Republican and former Montana State House Majority Leader referenced an episode of a podcast where a pro-abortion professor asked a pro-life woman about whether a woman should have to “sacrifice her organs because someone else told her to do so.”
Tschida told the Daily Montanan he did not remember the name of the podcast. According to the email, which was sent to more than 100 legislators, the woman responded that there is only one organ in a woman’s body “that is not there to serve a purpose for her and that is her womb.”
“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.”
In the email, Tschida said the message stuck with him.
“The womb is the only organ in a woman’s body that serves no specific purpose to her life or well-being,” Tschida wrote in the email. “It is truly a sanctuary.”
In the interview with the Daily Montanan, Tschida compared the message from the podcast to a scenario he witnessed where a fawn had died and the mother was fending off birds of prey.
“We’ve got a mother that’s a wild animal that’s trying to protect her offspring who’s already dead, but we we don’t have the same concern generally speaking for unborn in humanity,” he said. “I thought that was a pretty interesting parallel or dynamic.”
Tschida is running as the Republican candidate in the Missoula State Senate race for Senate District 49, a seat that Democrats have held onto by close margins during the last two elections. Democrat Sen. Diane Sands, who has been an outspoken advocate for reproductive rights and founder of the Montana National Abortion Rights Action League, held the Missoula seat since 2015. Sands’ term ends in 2023.
Sands last week spoke at the White House at a roundtable discussion with Vice President Kamala Harris concerning abortion access.
When asked how Tschida would work to sway former Sands supporters, Tschida said that Sands supported issues ranging from higher taxes to “minor children being allowed to undergo hormone therapy and sex, genitalia mutilation.”
Sands testified against a bill proposed in the 2021 legislative session that would have banned gender affirming surgeries for transgender minors, which ultimately failed to pass.
“If they (the voters) want to believe in those kind of things, and they support that and that is truly their highest and best issue or most important issue, and then they’ll let me know that November, ” Tschida said.
Nearly a month after the federal constitutional right to an abortion was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, Tschida sent the email in response to a Columbia Falls resident who expressed concern about the future of abortion access in Montana.
In Montana, abortion is still legal under the Armstrong v. State of Montana ruling, which found that Montana’s constitution protects a woman’s right to privacy while making medical decisions. The week after the Supreme Court decision, which was based on the right to privacy, Attorney General Austin Knudsen petitioned the Montana Supreme Court to consider the SCOTUS decision in an appeal of four abortion laws because Montana’s protection also is based on privacy.
Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte said earlier this year that he would be happy to call a special session on abortion following the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and he tweeted in June that he was “in discussions with legislative leaders on next steps as we work to protect life in Montana.”
“Montana has had a reputation in the past as a place where people care for their neighbors,” wrote the Columbia Falls resident. “We would not like to have that reputation replaced by one where we are known for our backwards view of the rights of women.”
Tschida told the Daily Montanan that if there was a special session on the topic of abortion, he would participate in it “wholeheartedly,” but said he wasn’t “hopping on the band wagon to advocate for it.”
He said on the campaign trail, people raised issues surrounding property taxes, cost of living and “gender issues related to males competing against females,” referring to transgender athletes participating in sports, which Gianforte banned last year signing HB 112 into law.
Rep. Willis Curdy, a Missoula Democrat running against Tschida in the Senate race, told Montana News Network that Tschida’s comments in the email were “creepy.”
“He is stepping into a place where he’s telling women their bodies don’t count,” Curdy said. “Or parts of their body don’t count.”
In an interview with MTN News, Tschida stood by his comments and said Curdy’s characterization of the quote was an exaggeration and not accurate.
“I think that’s exactly what it’s there for,” Tschida told MTN. “It welcomes in a new life, and that’s what it’s there to do, to nurture and sustain that life.”
When asked by the Daily Montanan if he felt his views on this issue would help or hinder him in Missoula in the upcoming election, he said to him, it was immaterial.
“I’ve told people what I believe. I’ve told them how I would vote,” he said. “That’s up to the individuals.”
In the Legislature since 2015, Tschida is also a member of an election-conspiracy group backed by a Trump-related think-tank called the Election Integrity Project. In late June, the group sued the Missoula County Elections Office over the 2020 election. The Montana Secretary of State had certified the election. Later in response to allegations, local Republicans conducted a count of ballot envelopes and found no evidence of fraud.
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