Bohlinger Defends Reproductive Rights For 56 Seconds

Former Republican Lt. Governor  and current Democratic candidate for Senate John Bohlinger released a video today telling Montana voters that he is pro-choice, in response to “innuendo” that he has a weak record on reproductive rights. As I’ve said before, I’m glad that Mr. Bohlinger seems to have realized that he was terribly wrong on reproductive rights as recently as ten years ago, but the video released today was hardly persuasive.

For one thing, Bohlinger’s primary defense rests on his “standing beside” Governor Schweitzer as the governor vetoed anti-choice legislation during the “batcrap crazy” session of 2011. That’s not terribly useful information. Bohlinger didn’t have to sign or veto those bills himself, and I can find no record of him publicly condemning Montana Republicans at that time for these anti-choice bills.

More significantly, some of those anti-choice bills that Governor Schweitzer vetoed had nearly the exact same language as bills that Mr. Bohlinger voted for as a legislator.  For example, in 2011, Schweitzer vetoed HB 167, which would have criminalized an offense involving the death of an unborn child.  In 2001, Bohlinger voted for a Fetal Protection Act which “would have made it a separate crime—and imposed additional criminal penalties—to injure or kill a fetus by assaulting a pregnant woman.”

A folksy video assuring viewers that Mr. Bohlinger is pro-choice simply isn’t enough. He’s going to need to explain to voters a) why his rhetoric now should be taken more seriously than his record as a legislator, and b) how and when he changed his mind on this core issue of women’s health and rights.

As a final note, it’s probably not terribly compelling when a candidate releases a video called “John Bohlinger on a Woman’s Right to Choose” and then only speaks about reproductive health for 56 seconds before transitioning to another subject for two-thirds of the video.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.


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  • So then, a candidate’s position on legal abortion, an issue which he can only barely and distantly affect while in office, is some kind of … what’s that word … searching here … it’s almost like a litmus test!

    Yeah, that’s it. You are willing to trash him in total for a minor inconsistency.

    On the other hand, I see major defects in candidates you do support without reservation, too many to list. If you were less responsive to wedge politics and more attentive to the overall integrity of the people who run for office ( as long as elections are the center of your being), your activities would at least produce consistent vetting processes.

    I’m going to speculate into your soul here, which you really dislike my doing: I think there is plenty of evidence in your many writings here that your only distinguishing criteria for support of a candidate is “D”. I think your problem with John is that he was for many years “R”.

    Your party has so many in it who could easily pass as right wing Republicans that I see John’s open disavowal of his former party as a sign of integrity. Most Republicans who run as Democrats are stealth, Baucus and Obama for example.

    • It takes a remarkable degree of male privilege to opposing reproductive rights as a a “minor inconsistency.” In his last opportunity to cast ballots on the record, Mr. Bohlinger voted for the worst kind of anti-choice bills. To my knowledge, he’s never explained why he changed his views. I’d argue that a flip of that magnitude deserves more than 56 seconds.

      And it’s not just abortion rights. His record on labor was bad, as was his record on education.

      How many “minor inconsistencies” does he get?

  • Your comment as usual is behind the times Mark. We Do offer a big tent as democrats. but don is right what Bolinger used to stand for was against our party Platform. Pro life is one of them. We accept pro-choice and a womans right to choose.

    Now I am not saying Bolinger hasnt become a changed man, he looks to have embraced democratic Ideas readily enough, at least to me he looks as he has…. But Walsh as always espoused more our values from the beginning, than Bolinger. He got in line before Bolinger did to be democratic. That means if we take things in a Civil american meaning, he was first in line. he was promised things first, and it is obliged to him to get his time first as well.

    Then there is your problem of not being a Montana anymore, so you don’t understand that in many counties here last election, Known republicans ran as Democrats, or independents for many county seats and state office. They were mostly defeated. But it unnerved a lot of Liberal minded folk, because of the shenanigans the republicans would revert too to win elections. Flat out lying and deceiving….. kinda like you do.

    • I’d be happy if you would refrain form commenting on Montana politics, as your understanding is about as deep as “Bolinger.” Politics in general is seemingly beyond your grasp, as it appears to you to be WYSIWYG. Nothing could be further from the truth.

      Why Bohlinger is running as a Democrat? Obviously his service in the Schweitzer Administration disqualified him from the other party. So what? What’s in a name? He’ll probalby demonstrate during the primary attitudes appealing to the progressives in your party, as Tester did in 2006, and if successful come under the control of the financiers, as Tester did in 2006. You cannot run a senate campaign in Montana without large amounts of outside money, and that money comes with an indentured servitude agreement attached. So no matter the outcome of the Senate race, once the general is over, so too is any progressive influence.

      By the way, since Montana is sparsely populated, those out-of-state financiers consider a Montana US senate seat to be a “cheap buy.” that can be had for <$5 mil. You should be far more concerned about those out-of-states than me, but because you are WYSIWYG, you are not even aware of them.

      Your party was fractured before 2008, but since that time you've (Don, PW, you so not to be too general) become, know it or not, Wall Street Democrats and corporatists. I was moved by Obama's and Tester's rhetoric enough in 2006/08 to vote for both of them, me who worked for Nader in 2000. But now you're all 'out there,' too far pushed rightward to offer meaningful choice. I hope "Bolinger" brings enough life into your party to ignite the progressive base again, but beyond that, I don't see much hope for change.

      • Explain how a candidate who, eight years ago, voted against women, labor, and education is going to ignite progressive values in the Democratic Party.

        His votes are problematic. Bohlinger being the best of a bad lot of Republicans was an excellent reason for Brian Schweitzer to select Bohlinger, but that’s hardly reason to believe he’s a progressive.

        It’s interesting that you’re willing to support someone with a demonstrated record of voting against progressive values and positions. I think that says more about your desire to be a misguided gadfly than it does about Montana politics.

        • and this is the reason, reason vexs Mark.

          Everyone in his bubble and reality agrees with him…. and he can say all his unfounded opinions, and conspiracy theories from the comfort of his baby high-chair 700 miles south from the Border of Montana without repercussions in public

          Safe in the knowledge that he wont get called a numskull there, in the parking lot of some supermarket while the world looks on laughing.

          A sad little man and expert of nothing worth our time in Montana issues!

          • And for a guy who says he follows Ralph Nader, who has always been a consumer watchdog and who believes Obamacare is the start for protecting consumers against a perverse insurance industry… you dont follow him at all.

            Thats right Nader is for Obamacare. Look it up! Because the alternative from your bankrupt side of thought is “crickets.”

            Nader is also for a womans right to choose. and in his usual diligence — if we were to follow Naders investigative style regarding protecting the rights of women….. He would be just as suspicious of Bolinger as Don is.

            • Nader on Obamacare:

              “Ending the preexisting conditions. There are some good preventative factors in 2700 — 2700 pages that will, you know, push out. The key is to transfer a little bit more power to the consumer. ”

              “Because prevention is not very profitable for the corporation. But it sure is profitable for human beings.”

              Nader on the right to choose:

              Ralph Nader endorses the full eleven-point agenda for economic, social and political rights of women put forward by the National Organization for Women, which includes the following section on Reproductive Rights: “NOW supports access to safe and legal abortion, to effective birth control, to reproductive health and education. We oppose attempts to restrict these rights through legislation.”

              Source: Green Party 2008 Presidential Candidate Questionnaire , Feb 3, 2008

            • This is revealing, Norma: you’re saying that because Nader said something, and because I admire Nader, I should agree with him. That is how blind followers think.

              ACA is, overall, a huge negative. I am familiar with most of its details, and have run tests on policies available down here, comparing 12 of them with a data set to see which played out as the best. What I learned has been reinforced by others: Our best bet is to buy the cheapest policy we can. I’ve written extensively about this, but because you only seek out people you know you will agree with, you will never go there.

              It’s not that I have not thought about it, nor that I am not grateful to be able to get insurance now, where I could not before. It is not nothing, however …

              … there is a larger picture, and here is what I think was the driving force behind ACA: California passed single payer twice, only to have it vetoed by Schwarzenegger each time. But that is what happened in Canada – one province passed it, Saskatchewan, it worked, and the others followed, and the insurance companies got the boot. AHIP saw the writing on the wall, and so hired Obama (they already owned Baucus) to put something else in place and take single payer off the table permanently. That was the driving force, and why suddenly in 2008, after years of indifference, the Democrats finally saw a need for reform.

              California just had another go-round with single payer this year. This time it was killed in session, as it was understood that babe own would not veto it. it was killed … by five Democrats.

              You guys are like potato chips without the salt.

              • Hey you opened your mouth and used him to make a point! Look in the Mirror, and try and pass it off as never happening. Im sure the guy looking back will agree with you, he seems to be the only one who does!

                • Norma, I happen to think that Nader’s 2000 run was a mistake, in retrospect, because it set the Democratic rage machine in motion and set third party politics back decades. Since that time it has only become more difficult to challenge the big “two” parties that are really one. But the man is still, for me, an accomplished citizen with a sterling record of public service. Whom I deeply admire. I don’t know what the hell quoting him on any given subject has to do with anything, but that’s your little private Idaho. His thoughts are not mine, but are worth a listen.

        • Don, I am constantly told that I should be happy getting a little something from people from whom I get the nothing, like Obama, because he is a Democrat. A mere label puts the base to sleep, and he has been able to carry forward with the Bush agenda. All that your people care about is D.

          I would indeed be happy with someone from whom I actually get a few of the many progressive values I cherish. A former Republican who I knew to be rebellious, intelligent and ethical and who indeed espouses some progressive values is, to me a better bet than the fox in the hen house-types whom you support without reservation and fail to hold accountable.

          Voting records, again, are not a substantive base for support, but rather only a minor factor, as they can be tailored, cherry-picked and abused. Baucus, for example, if LCC is to be believed, is an environmentalist. You’ve got to dig beneath the surface.

            • interesting links, Norma. it would help if you could analyze the content. “50” accomplishments, as put forth by an obvious Obama op or sympathizer, is merely the opening round of debate rather than a definitive statement.

              Just one, for instance, ending the war in Iraq, the administration merely followed through with the Agreement put in place by the Bush Administration to remove all ground troops by the end of 2011. And Obama did not do this willingly – he wanted troops in place and fought to overturn the Bush agreement, but Iraq refused to budge. See how misleading that is?

              Your second link, if you are not aware of the word, look up “irony.”

            • Very off-topic here too, Norma, using Pogie’s blog to engage me in non-relevant debate. I should not have responded and would not complain if my remarks were deleted for that reason.

              If you want to debate me, and you seem that way, you know where I am at.

              • Not looking to debate a guy who has no understanding of Montana Values, and doesn’t live here Mark! I dont read your blog because your issues are 700 miles away.

                I read Dons Blog.

                Why? Because it is revelant to Montana Issues, were I live. Not Colorado.

                • Unless you are older than 59, I lived there longer than you.

                  There is no such thing as “Montana values.” That’s a bumper sticker and a campaign ad.

                  And you don’t read my blog because you are prone to disagree with its content, and you avoid all material that you are not inclined in advance to agree with.

                  I’ve heard that old song and dance before. But still, don’t go to my blog. I don’t need your answering-yourself comment strings, name-calling, insults, black/white mindset. Just stop the disingenuous attitude about it.

                • There is no Montana Values? That’s exactly the why you are the poster child of the GOP today. You don’t care where you came from, that’s why it was so easy for you to leave here…. and snake oil salemen like the GOP to sell Montana out, today!

            • Please do so.

              By the way, it is “LCV'” league of Conservation Voters, that has bent over backwards to make Baucus look like an environmentalist. I said “LCC.”

              My late brother was a Catholic priest who was also the one who advised me on abortion that “you cannot tell people how to run their lives.” He suggested to me when I ran for office in ’96 to pay close attention to how Bohlinger handled the abortion issue, that John “had it right,” that is, walked a fine line so as not to hit the trip wire and blow an election on a matter he could not affect.

              I didn’t do as well as John. I came out openly pro-choice, and polarized the voters. I’m not smart that way. John is.

              • That was a non-sequitur on my part.

                Your only link concerned a Fetal Protection Act. It makes it a separate crime to harm a fetus in assaulting a pregnant woman. I got no problem with that because it does not limit the choices of the woman involved other than punishing an attacker for removing her choice to have a baby. One can favor legal abortion, as I do, and vote in favor to that bill, as I would.

                If one vote matters to you, and this is it, then you cited one vote that did not even involve abortion. I would not call that making your case.

  • I think he is waffling because he knows in his heart that abortion is a bad decision and instead of jumping on the “progressive” band wagon he struggles because he’s also a logical man. If you are “progressive” then you aren’t logical. Logical people wouldn’t decide that it’s a decision to kill an unborn baby but once she/he is born it’s no longer ok. Logic does not come in to play when a president thinks 30 million or so uninsured people can jump on an insurance plan and it will be cheaper for tax payers. “Progressive” thinking and logic don’t mix.

    • Logical? A logical man would side with women not, a man of religious values. A logical man would use science and decide a fetus is not human, and adds no religious value. whereas the woman carrying a child, has all the rights and liberties as a human being to make a decision about her body.

      What your saying therefore is not logical. You are basing your opinion on religious value. and again I remind you that Colonial America stoned children to death if they didn’t listen intently to their parents, as part of religious value.

      “In 1646 the General Court of Massachusetts Bay had enacted a law where “a stubborn or rebellious son, of sufficient years and understanding, ” would be brought before the Magistrates in court and “such a son shall be put to death.” “Stubborn child laws” were also enacted in Connecticut in 1650, Rhode Island in 1668, and New Hampshire in 1679.”

      “In 1966, the United States had 10,920 murders, and one out of every twenty-two was a child killed by a parent.”

      You want to be logical? Worry about the children that are already born now. Worry about their safety first, their love and hunger first. Not the unborn.

        • You demonstrated my point well, thank you.

          P.S. You say a fetus is not human….what is it?
          And why is the fetus considered an un-born child when a pregnant woman is killed?

          You mentioned all those children killed by parents in 1966…I’m sure you supported that…or at least you should since it should be their choice, right?

          • Got a vagina do ya, Mr. Dick? SOUNDS like you do! You’re kinda putin’ your HEAD where it don’t belong, doncha think? I’m sorry, you DON’T think! Mr. Dick, when you get the sex change you so badly seem to want, THEM you can speak for women and their bodies! You’re welcome in advance!

            • all you can do is laugh Larry. the guy puts the non human being not walking on the earth yet, before the human already inhabiting its space in the USA.

              If the unborn were considered human, why has no country on earth counted them as alive in their census?

              Lets see Dick Hammer argue against that logic????

            • That argument is old Larry. Since abortion leaves out the other unwilling participant, I’ll go ahead and speak for them. They don’t get to go home, they go in the medical waste bucket. They are as human and you and me but they don’t get a choice.

              • And neither do the mothers have any say, who every day your kind tries to take their rights away….because of pseudo religious values

                All you Ann Rand Believers who don’t listen correctly to.

                “One method of destroying a concept is by diluting its meaning. Observe that by ascribing rights to the unborn, i.e., the nonliving, the anti-abortionists obliterate the rights of the living.”
                ~Ann RAnd~

                And just so you know where I stand I believe a Planned parenthood office should be in every high school right next to the nurse and Counselors office. If they were on every campus in the United States then, the only children born would be the ones planned and therefore loved.

                Lastly, I have yet to see a pro-life person reach out as I have and adopt children, They talk the talk but never walk the walk of saving children already born.

          • You’re Hopelessly lost in dogma, Richard. A Dogma that wasn’t stopped by your religion but real people who by their varied lifestyles asked the Government and courts to intervene. Your faith based Ideology actually condoned infantcide here in America and you wont see it…. good luck in following you teachers true teachings. I see it hasn’t helped this country heal because of it….yet!

            Thats why none of our forefathers believed in it!

            • I walk the walk and like you I understand the real purpose of PP. I’m glad there are laws that protect kids once they are born but unfortunately, incredibly ignorance prevents those laws from protecting the unborn. Keep drinking the koolaid and blaming it on religion Norma.

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