Abortion rights supporters hold Kalispell rally

Women and men, young and old, students and children, gathered at Depot Park in Kalispell on Saturday to join the national Women’s March — Bans off our Bodies rally.

Attendees held signs and American flags, some wore red and pink to raise awareness for women’s reproductive rights and missing and murdered indigenous women. A slate of presenters spoke and shared personal stories, poems and music in support of pro-abortion rights at a time when the Supreme Court is deciding the future of Roe. v Wade.

Retired physician’s assistant Susan Cahill was among the speakers. Cahill previously owned a Kalispell family practice clinic that offered first-trimester abortions until it was vandalized in 2014. Prior to that, she worked in a family practice that offered abortions and was severely damaged by arson in 1994. She has also faced legal battles for performing abortions.

“I can’t begin to tell you how many people entrusted me with their health care and their personal stories, how it’s enriched my life,” Cahill said.

She spoke about honoring women with unintended pregnancies who don’t believe in abortion because they believe that life beings at conception to get support.

“It’s just that — a belief,” Cahill said. “Not all religions believe that. Not all people believe that.”

“I believe we can cross aisles with people who don’t believe in abortion by talking to them about let’s keep it legal and let’s work darn hard to make it as rare as we can and there are ways to do that. Paid family leave — one out of five women in this country go back to work within a couple of weeks of having a baby because they can’t afford not to,” she said.

Cahill pleaded to the crowd to speak up and register to vote.

“Please understand we are all in this together,” Cahill said.

She also touched on the potential loss of privacy rights in Montana if the state Legislature moves to enact abortion bans in the state.

“If the right to privacy is weakened every person could face a future in which the government could potentially interfere in the personal decisions you make about your life. That is what this is about,” Cahill said.

Out in the crowd, rally attendee Chelsie Russig shared her thoughts on privacy and government overreach.

“The thing that sticks out the most to me about this issue is that the people on the other side are advocating for limited government except for when it comes to women’s reproductive rights — and what a striking, hypocritical, stance that is to have,” she said. “Then, something that is very distinctly private and intimate they suddenly want to regulate that.”

Taped to the back of Russig’s shirt was the word “overeducated,” referencing a tweet from U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz calling women protesting the Roe v. Wade draft opinion “over-educated, under-loved millennials …”

“It’s pretty appalling rhetoric,” she added.

Wearing the red cloaks and white bonnets depicted in the book and TV show adaptation “The Handmaid’s Tale,” mother and daughter, Renee and Alaina Hindle, took to the pavilion stage. Alaina Hindle raised attention to foster care and the mental health of children in those systems and that of birth mothers. She also advocated for paid parental leave, child care assistance, and adequate school nutrition.

Attendees Mercedes Ivanov and Kayla Probert wore red and pink in support of missing and murdered indigenous women and women’s reproductive rights.

Both questioned how willing public taxpayers will be if Roe. v. Wade is reversed and there’s a potential rise in families on welfare and children in foster care.

“What about the women who have babies but don’t want to. Who is going to support them afterward?” Ivanov asked.

“We already fought this fight. Why are we fighting again?” Probert questioned.

Reporter Hilary Matheson may be reached at 758-4431 or hmatheson@dailyinterlake.com.



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