As millions of Americans protest restrictions that preclude abortions, even when the life of a woman is at risk, Montana state Rep. Brad Tschida (R) is arguing that a woman’s womb “serves no specific purpose to her life or well-being.”
“The womb is the only organ in a woman’s body that serves no specific purpose to her life or well-being,” Tschida wrote on Monday, according to MTN News, the first to report the news. “It is truly a sanctuary.”
The false claim goes against long-accepted science surrounding the pear-shaped organ and how it helps in women’s reproductive health and function. The uterus plays a critical role not just in the growth and development of a fetus during pregnancy but also menstruation and fertility. Conditions and diseases of the uterus can cause painful symptoms that require medical treatment, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Tschida’s remarks were met by backlash from Democrats who accused the lawmaker of holding “antiquated, and frankly offensive beliefs.” Among those critics was state Rep. Willis Curdy (D), Tschida’s state Senate opponent, who decried the comments as “absolutely ludicrous and flat-out creepy.”
“He is literally telling women what is and isn’t theirs and what they can and cannot do with their bodies,” Curdy tweeted.
But Tschida, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment early Friday, doubled down on his remarks to local media, and pointed to a comment from the antiabortion activist in the podcast episode he had referenced: 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.”
“I’m not going to apologize for saying that,” Tschida told MTN. “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.”
The Republican’s comments come as the country continues to navigate through the first weeks of a post-Roe landscape — a stretch dominated by protests, lawsuits, court rulings and a man’s arrest in the case of a 10-year-old rape victim in Ohio who traveled to Indiana for an abortion. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) announced Thursday that he was suing the Biden administration over federal rules that require abortions be provided in medical emergencies to save the life of the mother, even in states with near-total bans. The lawsuit follows new guidance from the Department of Health and Human Services that asserted federal law requiring emergency medical treatment supersedes any state restrictions on abortion in cases where the pregnant patient’s life or health is at risk.
While abortion remains legal for now in Montana due to protections in the state constitution, Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) has said previously that he would call a special legislative session on abortion if Roe was overturned. As Gianforte joined other Republicans on June 24 in celebrating what he called “a historic win for life, families, and science,” the governor tweeted that he was “in discussions with legislative leaders on next steps as we work to protect life in Montana.” Any legislative change to end the abortion protections would require a voter-approved amendment.
I'm in discussions with legislative leaders on next steps as we work to protect life in Montana.— Governor Greg Gianforte (@GovGianforte) June 24, 2022
Tschida, who has represented Missoula in the state House since 2015, is running for a state Senate seat in a district that Democrats narrowly won in the previous two elections. The seat has been held by Democratic state Sen. Diane Sands, an outspoken advocate for women’s reproductive rights who recently spoke at a White House roundtable discussion on abortion access with Vice President Harris. Sands’s term ends next year.
In an email sent Monday to legislators, Tschida referenced an episode of a podcast featuring a professor who supported abortion rights debating with a woman who held antiabortion beliefs. Although Tschida told local media that he did not recall the name of the podcast, the Republican noted how the professor asked his antiabortion guest whether a woman should have to “sacrifice her organs because someone else told her to do so.” After thinking on the question, Tschida wrote, the woman expressed her opinion that “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.”
“That single factor has struck me since I heard that commentary,” Tschida wrote.
The Republican told the Daily Montanan that the message he took away from the uterus exchange was comparable to a time he saw a doe fend off birds of prey from eating her dead fawn.
“We’ve got a mother that’s a wild animal that’s trying to protect her offspring who’s already dead, but 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.”
The Republican argued that voters cared about other issues more than abortion — such as inflation, the high cost of gas and election security — and that his views on women’s rights and their bodies would not be a factor in the November election.
“I’ve told people what I believe. I’ve told them how I would vote,” he said to the newspaper. “That’s up to the individuals.”
Katie Shepherd contributed to this report.