Missoula women’s, pro-choice groups decry Trump’s Supreme Court pick

Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh with President Donald Trump on Monday night in the East Room of the White House. (Jim Bourg/Reuters)

The stakes for Montana women have “never been higher” than they are in the wake of Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, the executive director of Carol’s List said Tuesday.

And those stakes extend to November’s midterm elections, and to incumbent Democratic Sen. Jon Tester’s reelection race against Republican Matt Rosendale, Stacie Anderson said during a news conference in the Missoula County Courthouse.

“Matt Rosendale stands against women at every turn,” Anderson said. “He’s voted against equal pay for equal work, he’s voted against protections for victims of domestic and sexual abuse. To say that Matt Rosendale will be an enemy to Montana women in the Senate is an understatement. If Matt Rosendale is elected, Montana women could very well lose reproductive freedom entirely.”

One by one, the leaders of Carol’s List and NARAL Pro-Choice Montana and the former director of the Montana Department of Health and Human Services protested the nomination of Kavanaugh and the stakes for women in November’s vote.

Kavanaugh, a constitutional conservative, was nominated this week by President Donald Trump to fill Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s seat on the Supreme Court.

Kennedy has often held the swing vote on women’s issues, including abortion and women’s health care. Kavanaugh is expected to fall solidly into the conservative camp.

Having Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court could give the court an opportunity to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision establishing a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion.

Alison James, co-chair of NARAL Pro-Choice Montana, emphasized that Rosendale opposes abortion, and has supported an amendment defining “personhood” as beginning at conception. He also favors banning some forms of birth control.

“The threat to Montana women’s health care cannot be overstated,” James said. “As the Senate considers the next Supreme Court nominee, women’s reproductive freedom is in real danger. That’s why this November, women have the choice between a champion of women’s health care in Jon Tester and a man who possesses an anti-choice record that threatens Montana women’s freedoms.”

Anderson said that Tester is the best fit for women in Montana, and would protect their right to make health decisions on their own.

“Senator Tester has a 100 percent voting record with organizations like Planned Parenthood,” she said. “He has time and time again stood up for the right for Montana women to make the decisions that is best for themselves, their families and their doctors, and he knows his place is not in the middle of those conversations.”

Anna Whiting Sorrell, an Indian health care leader and former director of the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, voiced her support of the Affordable Care Act, or the ACA, saying that it has helped thousands of Montanans in receiving health care coverage for the first time, especially Native Americans.

President Trump tried to dismantle the act after vowing to repeal it during his 2016 campaign. Rosendale, the Montana state auditor, has also opposed the ACA.

But Sorrell said the ACA has provisions that extend health care insurance to a child covered under their parent’s policy until they’re 26 years old, to women for their health-care needs, and protects those who have pre-existing conditions.

About 11,000 Montana Native Americans have also been able to receive care through the ACA, Sorrell said.

“Native Americans are covered, many for the first time, with true health care because of the Affordable Care Act,” Sorrell said at the news conference. “And today, we know that this coverage brings to Indians in Montana the possibility of ending the disparity that exists all across Montana. We die a generation younger than our counterparts.”

Anderson encouraged the audience to “get to work” and vote for Tester in November.

This generation thinks differently from its predecessors, she said.

“Growing up, I was told I could be anything I wanted to be, that I was so lucky to be born in the generation I was,” she said. “That there are women astronauts, women fighter pilots and even women senators. And the biggest thing that set my generation apart from the previous ones was that my parents knew I had the full autonomy of my reproductive decisions, which meant I could go headstrong into the world, have a career and have a family when the time is right.”