Candidates in key Montana state Senate race spar over abortion comment

'Woman’s womb serves no specific purpose to her life' says Rep. Tschida
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Posted at 4:11 PM, Jul 11, 2022

MISSOULA — Former Montana State House Majority Leader and candidate for a potential swing Montana state Senate race said in an email to fellow legislators Monday that a woman’s womb serves no specific purpose to her life or well-being.

The comment was made by Rep. Brad Tschida, R-Missoula, who is running for Senate District 49, which Democrats won by a narrow margin in the last two elections.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade, Montana Democratic lawmakers have said in order to prevent a ban on abortion in Montana, voters can’t allow Republicans to gain two seats, resulting in a super majority, in the state legislature. With a super majority, Republicans would have the power to put constitutional changes on the ballot, which could include amendments to restrict abortion.

The race for Missoula’s Senate District 49 is expected to attract a lot of money from both sides, said Scott McNeil, director of the Montana Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee. A month into the general election and both candidates have already raised tens of thousands of dollars.

Tschida made his comment in an email to dozens of lawmakers in response to a member of the public from Columbia Falls who voiced opposition to abortion restrictions in Montana.

“The womb is the only organ in a woman’s body that serves no specific purpose to her life or well-being,” Tschida said. “It is truly a sanctuary.”

Tschida’s opponent, Rep. Willis Curdy, D-Missoula, represents House District 98, one of the two house seats in Senate District 49. Tschida represents the other, House District 97.

In an interview with MTN News Monday, Curdy called Tschida’s comments “creepy” and “ludicrous.”

“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.”

Curdy’s characterization of the comment was an exaggeration and isn't accurate, Tschida told MTN News.

The statement is that the womb doesn’t serve a specific purpose to the well-being of that woman, the womb is a sanctuary, Tschida repeated.

“I’m not going to apologize for saying that,” Tschida said. “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 is an important issue, Tschida said, the people he’s spoken to said the biggest issues are inflation, high cost of gas, election security and border security. The Republican lawmaker said he wasn’t opposed to calling a special session to try and restrict abortion in Montana, but he’d want to hear from his constituency first.

People in Curdy’s district are “overwhelmingly pro-choice,” Curdy said, and most women would be totally offended by this commentary. Tschida’s put himself in a place where he is telling women what to do with their bodies, Curdy said.

In response, Tschida said he wanted to know if Curdy believed “a child in utero, that is in the process of being developed into a fully formed human being, with separate DNA, is part of a woman’s body?”

Sen. Diane Sands represents Senate District 49 through 2022 but cannot run for reelection due to term limits. Sands was an outspoken advocate for abortion rights throughout her career. She spoke Friday with Vice President Kamala Harris about the future of abortion in Montana.

Sands underlined the need to prevent Republicans from gaining seats in the Montana State Legislature this election cycle.

“If (Democrats) do not hold the line and win some in this next election,” Sands said. “Abortion is really something that will probably disappear even in the state of Montana.”

Sands won Senate District 49 in 2018 by about 300 votes and by about 30 votes in 2014.