Voting for Abortion Rights in Montana?!

Voting for Abortion Rights in Montana?!

Featured photo, no, Austin Knudsen did not literally say that about freedom. He just says it indirectly by his actions.

Well, well, well, it looks like Montanans might get a chance to vote on ensuring abortion access this November.

Constitutional Initiative No. 128 (CI-128) has made it to the signature gathering stage after jumping through numerous obstacles Republican Attorney General Austin Knudsen, Republican Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen, and more threw in its way. The group behind the CI-128 effort, Montanans Securing Reproductive Rights (MSRR) are cleared for signature gathering. We should start seeing people working to collect signatures soon as the group has a sign up for signature gatherers on their website.

After a Montana Supreme Court ordered deadline, Secretary of State Jacobsen finally did her job and delivered the sample petition with the court-issued ballot language on April 5th.  You can see the language below.

CI-128 ballot language

Accuracy! Without biased, inflammatory language. What a little treat for us.

It’s nice to see a functioning judicial branch in Montana. Our Republican Attorney General Knudsen tried to block the ballot proposal as “legally insufficient” after a required review by his office. MSRR sued and the Montana Supreme Court found Austin Knudsen erred in finding the proposal for the 2024 ballot “legally insufficient.” Then Knudsen tried to push through some inflammatory pro-life language for the initiative. MSSR sued again asking the Court to certify its proposed ballot language and to invalidate Knudsen’s, which the group describes as “argumentative, prejudicial, and inaccurate.” And the Court agreed with MSRR! After some more legal wrangling (Thanks Austin! Thanks Christi! Eye rolling emoji), we have made it to the signature gathering stage.

We’ve seen the extremism that has gripped the Montana Republican Party that mirrors the extremism of the national Republican Party. We saw what the national Republican Party did with majorities in Congress. They held a Supreme Court Justice pick hostage. Installed an extremist conservative block on the Supreme Court. And overturned Roe v. Wade protections.

Republicans aren’t stopping at overturning Roe v. Wade. They want a national abortion ban. They are attacking access to IVF, contraceptives, and even no-fault divorce! Initiatives like this one help serve as a safeguard to protecting our rights. We’re keeping an eye on the signature gathering process. Abortion rights have won in every election since Roe v. Wade was overturned, will Montana follow the path we took in 2022 when the regressive anti-reproductive rights LR-131 was voted down?

No IVF for you!

No IVF for you!

The future Republicans signed us up for is here.


This past week, the Alabama Supreme court ruled that frozen embryos can be considered children under state law. If it’s not obvious yet, if the courts say you can’t destroy an IVF embryo, you won’t have access to IVF. Why would you expect a business to open themselves up to that kind of liability? Not surprisingly, several clinics in Alabama have begun pausing their IVF procedures.

In response to the backlash, Republicans are scrambling to explain why judges they put in place and laws they passed have led us here. They can run from the truth, but they can’t hide from it. I mean, the orange one was just bragging that he’s the reason Roe fell!

This is a logical, inevitable conclusion of attacks on reproductive freedoms. If you claim life begins at fertilization, you rob women of the right to control their own reproduction. Instead, you remove the rights of the living, breathing person in front of you in favor of a potential life. How can a woman have true equality and bodily autonomy if she can’t choose when or whether to be pregnant?


Republicans hate reproductive freedom


People might say that’s extreme to say. But let’s get real. As we previously wrote about before, the Montana GOP explicitly supports a complete ban on abortions with NO EXCEPTIONS for rape, incest, or the life of the mother. Every Republican legislator in Great Falls has voted against abortion rights, again, and again. There are no moderate, elected Republicans willing to have a spine and stand up for women. They have made people with uteruses second class citizens.

If we want these poisonous changes to stop, we have to speak out and work to elect leaders that treat all people with dignity and respect. Leaders that care about our humanity, not just our reproductive abilities.

Representative Steven Galloway Asserts Abortion Responsible for Labor Shortage . . .Huh?

Representative Steven Galloway Asserts Abortion Responsible for Labor Shortage . . .Huh?

Well, you probably already heard about the marathon County Commission meeting to take testimony about eliminating election administration from Clerk and Recorder, Sandra Merchant.  For the record, the Commission decided the right thing to do was have elections handled by someone who knows what they are doing, a novel thought! We’ll be publishing more on that later.

This post focuses on one of the more bizarre claims made by a Merchant supporter.  There were plenty of weird statements, but we think Representative Steven Galloway takes the cake.  After waiting almost to the end of public comment, Galloway rose to impart his wisdom to the Commissioners. Saying he is concerned about the county’s ability to find qualified applicants to administer elections, Galloway continued, “You can’t find employees, because the population is decreasing – through people not having kids, having abortions, we’ve got folks that are retiring.”

Check out the full article here:

So, let’s look a little more closely at Galloway’s assertion.  First, is the population of Montana really declining?  Well, the answer to that one is “No.”  Since 2010, Montana’s population grew 13.3%.  Of course Cascade County is not seeing the same growth as Gallatin, Missoula and Flathead Counties. During the same period, Cascade County grew 4.1%.

But the thing that really caught our attention was his assertion that abortion is a contributing cause to our labor shortage. In 2021, 1,728 abortions were performed in Montana. (FYI of those 73% were chemical). Montana’s population in 2021 was 1.104 million.  Don’t rush for your calculator, that amounts to 00.0015%.  Hardly a big enough number to cause an unemployment problem.  But facts coming from Merchant’s supporters were in short supply during the meeting.  

If Galloway really wants to do something about the labor market, he should get his head out of his right-wing play book and consider supporting reasonable immigration reform, rather than building a barbed wire fence around the country. 



The Clownery of the Montana Legislature

The Clownery of the Montana Legislature

While Cascade County residents are watching in horror the complete trainwreck of elections under newly elected Clerk and Recorder Sandra Merchant, how are things going in the Montana Legislature?

First the good news.

Ha! I kid, there is no good news. We elected clowns so now we get clownery.

Ok, fine I take that back. There is some good news. A big thank you to the people speaking up and testifying against hateful legislation. Democrats and members of the public are still pointing out illegal and thoughtless aspects of these bills. I’m thankful that people are trying to defend Montana’s citizens from our extremist Republicans legislators.

The latest stupidity from our Great Falls Legislators

The good news is that thanks to the efforts of passionate testimony, we have managed to reject some ultra stupid bills by Great Falls legislators. Like SB 235 by Senator Daniel Emrich — an effort to ban teachers from teaching scientific theory and SB 497 by Senator Steve Fitzpatrick — an effort to destroy stream access for Montana anglers. Buh-bye bad bills.

There’s another from Great Falls Senator Jeremy Trebas to highlight. Trebas wanted to prohibit Montana state employees from having to take classes about diversity, equity, or inclusion with his bill SB 222. “The proposed law would make it illegal to teach concepts that might make employees feel “guilt, anguish, or other forms of psychological distress.” The bill is based on a Florida “Stop WOKE Act” showing the complete lack of originality for these bigots. Trebas said a twitter user told him, “soon we’ll be subjected to almost 50 trainings before June.” Sounds legit Jeremy. You definitely should shit on the teaching of anything that makes people uncomfortable like actual truth and history based on some rando twitter exchange. The bill passed out of the State Senate but got tabled in a House committee. Hopefully it stays tabled.

So, what’s the bad news?

Well. I’m sorry. It continues to be very bad. Shocking no one, Republicans continue to attack abortion rights, LGBTQ rights and pass bills to benefit the uber rich.

I can’t list all of the bad bills here, so I’ll just mention some of the worst and point out where our Great Falls delegation is failing us.

Abortion Rights

Great Falls Representative Lola Sheldon Galloway, our local delegation’s best handmaiden to the patriarchy, has two disgusting bills to highlight. The bills both passed out of committee based solely on Republican votes. HB 937 forces more onerous licenses for providers and facilities that perform abortions. HB 786 adds more burdens on abortion medication providers. The goal of this legislation is not to protect people with uteruses or keep us safer. (Despite the gibberish Lola likes to spout.) The real goal is to dissuade patients and medical providers from providing necessary healthcare. Wow Lola, why do you hate people with uteruses so much?

View of Lola Sheldon-Galloway's bench ad with her slogan "Leave our liberties alone" and an added speech bubble with the words "Unless you have a uterus!"
Lola Sheldon-Galloways’s bitterly ironic campaign bench ads from 2022

More Stupidity on Healthcare

Senator Daniel Emrich, R-Great Falls continues to fight established medical knowledge and try to stop immunization requirements with his SB 450. SB 450 has now passed from the Montana Senate to the Montana House. Before widespread vaccination, measles caused an estimated 2.6 million deaths each year. But who cares if your child catches a preventable and potentially fatal disease? Isn’t it better to be them to be immunization-free and dead?

LGBTQ+ Bigotry

Even though our Great Falls delegation aren’t the primary sponsors on several hateful anti-LGBTQ+ bills, they sure are fine voting for them.

Horrifyingly, the Montana Senate passed SB 458 to adopt discriminatory definitions of sex in an effort to exclude LGBTQ+ people from protections of state law. The bill prohibits “LGBTQ+ people from bringing claims of sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination in areas like employment, housing, public accommodations, health care, credit, and education.” What a sign of the times. Our Great Falls’ Senators Jeremy Trebas, Daniel Emrich, and Steve Fitzpatrick voted yes, because of course they did.

Is there more LGBTQ+ hate to go around?

Yes! Because our state is run by a bunch of homophobic extremists. 

What about the hideous SB 99 that our blog mentioned before here and here? SB 99 would make it essentially impossible for healthcare practitioners to provide age-appropriate, best practice, gender affirming care. This bill is a far-right attack on transgendered children and their families. The Montana Medical Association, the state chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Montana Primary Care Association all have spoken out against SB 99.

But why listen to an expert when you can listen to your bigoted impulses, right Montana Republicans? It has passed though the legislature and these Great Falls legislators voted for it:

  • Fred Anderson
  • Ed Buttrey
  • Steve Galloway
  • Steve Gist
  • Scot Kerns
  • George Nikolakakos
  • Lola Sheldon-Galloway
  • Daniel Emrich
  • Steve Fitzpatrick
  • Jeremy Trebas

Thank you to Senator Wendy McKamey for voting no on SB 99. Senator McKamey was the ONLY Great Falls legislator that didn’t vote to pass this hate.

Knowing the homophobia of our governor, SB 99 will be signed into law and then the taxpayers get to pay for the lawsuits. Meanwhile trans youth are treated as punching bags.

Where does that leave us?

I wish I could end on a lighter note, but our Great Falls delegation and other Montana Republicans continues to let down Montana’s citizens. Keep speaking up and let them know we are watching and disagree with their hateful attacks on our rights. You can send a message to a legislator using this form: or give them a call, they love it. The general switchboard is (406) 444-4800 and your message will be delivered to a legislator

Legalized Discrimination: Medical Providers Foresee Deadly Consequences if HB 303 Passes

Legalized Discrimination: Medical Providers Foresee Deadly Consequences if HB 303 Passes

By Dr. Kate Eby

HB303, presented by its proponents as a bill to provide protections to medical practitioners, healthcare institutions, and healthcare payers based on their conscience, presents a real and imminent danger to the health and wellbeing of Montanans. This bill doesn’t just   provide for all of these entities to refuse to participate in certain crucial aspects of medical care (with its primary focus being abortion). It also requires that those who are willing to provide these services provide affirmative consent, in writing, prior to being requested or assigned to participate in these services in any way. 

This bill is dangerous on many levels. First, and perhaps most obviously, it limits the care available to Montanans. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology describes abortion as “an essential component of comprehensive, evidence-based health care.” This bill represents another step to limit access to this critical aspect of healthcare. Abortion is healthcare and should be treated as any other aspect of healthcare would be. Allowing healthcare entities to refuse to provide this service has serious, and potentially fatal, consequences. 

In a case cited by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) which, under the Trump administration, passed a rule similar to the one currently being considered, abortion services were denied to a patient carrying a nonviable pregnancy. The patient, Tamesha Means, presented to the only hospital within 30 minutes of her – a Catholic hospital. She was 18 weeks pregnant and went into early labor. She was not advised that her pregnancy was likely nonviable, nor was she offered the (medically appropriate) treatment option of terminating her pregnancy. Instead, she was discharged home with pain medication and told to keep her scheduled followup appointment the next week. She returned to the hospital the following morning with a fever and severe pain. Despite her treating physician’s suspicion that she had a severe infection which could result in her infertility or death, she was again discharged home. She returned to the same hospital for the third time that night with severe, painful contractions, and as the hospital was preparing to discharge her home for the third time, she delivered a baby that lived only for a few short hours. Several years later, she sued the Conference of Catholic Bishops, something that the HHS described as an attempt to coerce organizations into performing abortions against their will. 

As a healthcare worker with a lifetime of experience providing care to patients facing emergent and acute illnesses, I can say with confidence that the care she received was substandard by any definition. A patient presented with a severe, life-threatening emergent medical problem – a problem which has a clear and appropriate course of treatment: termination of the pregnancy. However, the organization and its employees, based on religious beliefs, failed to provide her with appropriate care. They endangered her life and wellbeing. HB 303  would allow organizations and healthcare providers in Montana to not only refuse to provide this type of medically appropriate care, it would also allow them to refuse to refer the patient to other sources for this care. In a state with already limited resources, this further narrows the options that patients are given to receive the most appropriate care.

The Lancet, among the oldest and most respected journals in the medical community, put it best when they said, “The Justices who vote to strike down Roe will not succeed in ending abortion, they will only succeed in ending safe abortion. Alito and his supporters will have women’s blood on their hands.” HB303 represents yet another insidious attempt to rob women of reproductive rights and access to safe, evidence-based, medically appropriate healthcare. 

Dr. Kate Eby is a dually certified Family and Adult Geriatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner.   She received her masters degree from MSU-Bozeman and completed her doctorate and post-doctoral studies at the University of Colorado. She has practiced in a variety of acute care and inpatient settings. She is also a Certified Nurse Educator through the National League for Nursing, and teaches at the undergraduate and graduate levels.


American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. (2022). Abortion Policy.

Means vs. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. (2016). 

The Lancet. (2022). Why Roe v. Wade must be defended.

Local Activist Shines National Spotlight on Abortion Rights

Local Activist Shines National Spotlight on Abortion Rights

The world is full of good and brave people. If we’re lucky, we get to call these people friends. So I was delighted to see my friend and former Great Falls resident, Laura Wight, featured in The Washington Post this week. 

Wight and her family lived in Great Falls for 11 years. In her time here, Laura was a steadfast figure in the volunteer world. She served as Vice President of the Great Falls LGBTQ+ Center, was an avid supporter of Planned Parenthood, and worked as the head librarian at Great Falls College MSU.  Then life happened, as it is always wont to do, and a new career opportunity brought the Wights to New Mexico. But moving to a Blue state was not the end of Laura’s activism work. Rather, the undoing of Roe and an ultra conservative city commission has Wight treading that well-known protest line, this time in a much warmer clime.

Despite abortion being legal in New Mexico, the city of Clovis has been besieged by extremist right-wing pastors who have pushed an illegal abortion ban. One such extremist, Mark Lee Dickson has been making the rounds in Montana as well. Dickson (emphasis on DICK) has popped up in rural Montana towns, including Manhattan, Sheridan, and Whitehall , attempting to create “sanctuary cities for the unborn.” It’s not lost on us that these same idealogues are adamantly opposed to providing sanctuary for the already born. 

When Hurricane Dickson arrived in Clovis, Laura Wight was ready.  Calling on her decades of organizing experience, Wight responded quickly, creating Eastern New Mexico Rising. Now Wight is leading legal efforts to sue the city, and gathering signatures to bring the issue to the voters. Laura’s story highlights what organizers  know all too well- The fight is not just here in Montana.  The fight is everywhere. Lucky for New Mexico, they’ve gained one hell of a fighter. 

You can read about Wight’s continued work here:

Learn about Dicksons’ trip to Manhattan here: