Men (Old and Young) Will Not Tell Women What To Do With Their Bodies

Yesterday in Butte, former Governor Schweitzer asked a question that has stuck with me. He asked a group of supporters at an event with Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards if they believed that Jeanette Rankin “would let a bunch of old white men tell her what to do with her life?”

The answer, of course, is hell no.

Despite the threat to women’s reproductive rights across the country, Montanans have a Democratic candidate for the Senate whose anti-choice record rivals the radicals of the Republican Party. There simply is no other candidate who better fits Schweitzer’s description of an old man who wants to control women’s bodies than John Bohlinger.

I’ve detailed his anti-choice record here a number of times. In response, the Bohlinger campaign offered a half-hearted defense of reproductive freedom that I’ll let you judge for yourself. Hardly a stirring defense of abortion rights, is it? I’ve defended an episode of The Wire with a lot more passion and detail than Bohlinger was able to muster when it came to defending the fundamental privacy rights held by women.

It’s simply insufficient for a Democratic US Senate candidate to wave his hand about and vaguely assert his pro-choice credentials, expecting us to believe that his positions have changed. A candidate who voted for the most stringent restrictions on abortion rights possible, including a constitutional amendment that would have gutted abortion rights needs to do more than claim to be pro-choice now when it is politically expedient.

Bohlinger needs to publicly repudiate those specific votes—and explain why, other than for political calculations, he has changed his position now. The stakes are simply too high, as Cecile Richards reminds us, to take him at his word.

And it’s not just Bohlinger, of course. Other Republicans in Montana seem to have been told by a strategist that calling for increased privacy is a winner with Montana voters. You’ve got Matt Rosendale’s self-funded ego quest centered on claims that he will protect privacy rights, and following a training session, a group of 6-9 young Republican activists have been claiming that they will protect privacy rights by battling the NSA—in the Montana Legislature.

What they seem unwilling to recognize is that they are working in opposition to a battle for privacy that has been ongoing for generations in Montana. Asserting that the right to cell phone data privacy trumps a woman’s right to access health care of her choice reflects a profoundly privileged, and even ignorant, position. Their party platform calls for ending reproductive privacy–and no calls to protect my data can erase that.

It seems especially timely to remind people like John Bohlinger and the young Republicans that the Montana Supreme Court has even more forcefully asserted that the right to privacy than the US Supreme Court. In a decision involving reproductive rights champion Susan Cahill, way back in 1999, the Court, citing Locke and Mill, asserted that privacy rights unquestionably protect abortion rights:

We hold that the core constitutional right infringed by the legislation at issue in the case at bar is the fundamental right of individual privacy guaranteed to every person under Article II, Section 10 of the Montana Constitution. ? We hold that the personal autonomy component of this right broadly guarantees each individual the right to make medical judgments affecting her or his bodily integrity and health in partnership with a chosen health care provider free from the interference of the government, except in very limited circumstances not at issue here. ? More narrowly, we hold that Article II, Section 10, protects a woman’s right of procreative autonomy-here, the right to seek and to obtain a specific lawful medical procedure, a pre-viability abortion, from a health care provider of her choice.

It seems that both John Bohlinger and the young Republicans should do some reading about privacy protections in our state, because no group of men, old or young, is going to take away access for Montana women.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

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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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  • Those “old white men” are certainly wearing white sheets.

    More black babies are aborted in NY than are born.

    • Oh Swede, you’re such a humanitarian, aren’t you? Such concern for black people I’ve never seen. God bless you, Mr. Swede!

      btw, black women should not be allowed contraception, should they, swede?

      • So Lar, when Bull Connor and the grand wizards of the KKK have their weekly luncheon in the bowls of hell what do you they celebrate the most?

        Some stupid joke about watermelons in the white house garden or hundreds of thousands of aborted minority babies/fetuses?

    • Just because we are talking about how old, bald-headed, fat, white men, try to control women’s every move and what they do with their bodie, you don’t have to turn this around and hate on black females.

  • Ah yes, wedge politics. Look here fellas, not there! Works every damned time.

    Question you should be asking when they start wedging you is what is going on now that the party doesn’t want you thinking about. My guess, could be wrong, is installing yet another cloaked Republican in the senate.

    Which naturally makes me wonder why a Republican state like Montana can’t just have outright Republican office holders. Politics is not simple.

  • I consider myself neither old nor young, just mediocre aged, but I need to say something to all women. It is something they all know, but which the author intentionally lies about.

    The issue of abortion is not just about women’s privacy, or the right of what women do with their own bodies. There are other bodies involved, both of which are not a woman’s body or nor her privacy.

    The first is the human human life of the child. Not a pig, or a dog, or an ameba or even a shrimp. It is a person being built within someone else’s body, and the mother has a responsibility to protect, care for and love that little one because it is not her body, but that of another. That child got there through a normal healthy biological process and not an invasion nor a disease. Having a child is normal healthcare, while abortion is the opposite in the case of the child.

    The second is the father of the child, who also has an innate responsibility to the life within the woman’s body. That child is just as much related to him as it is to the mother, and he needs his rights protected to a degree that he is able to protect and preserve the life of his baby.

    The political jargon and terminology used by the Democratic party on this issue is designed to cloud the facts. Making this your premier political plank lets us know what you really care about.

    Democrat: The party of thoughtless uncaring sex above everything else.

    • Rev,
      When a rapist impregnates his victim, does he “have an innate responsibility to the life within the woman’s body”?

      Do his rights need to be protected?

      • The answer to both questions is yes.

        He has a responsibility to be a good father to that child. I have never heard of a rapist doing this, but he still has the responsibility. He also has a responsibility to our society, and I would hope our legal system holds him to it. Think long jail time (or worse)!

        He has rights. The right to a lawyer, to a speedy trial, etc. He should also be given opportunity to pay child support, or to do the right thing toward his child after he has paid his debt to society in jail. If he has committed a capital offense and his punishment is exacted out it would simplify the situation.

        So may answer is yes and yes, but justice for the victims makes it more complicated. There are two victims in this crime.

        • Reverand, that is patently ridiculous.

          1) 225 years of American jurisprudence have well established that a person who commits a crime gives up many, most or all of their rights (in the case of acts of terrorism.) That is not negotiable or ambiguous. If you wish to argue that rapists have the rights afforded fatherhood, than you’d best take it to the courts. So far, blanket statements of ‘rights’ have proven useful for foisting tripe arguments but are rarely effective in practice.

          2) There are *not* two victims in the crime of rape, and it is absolutely ridiculous to state such. The rapist is certainly not a victim, and the zygote isn’t even a viable combination of cells until after the crime is committed. If you would like to argue that a child without two parents is the victim of a crime, then have it. Please show how not having two responsible parents is legally the result of a criminal act. That has nothing at all to do with what you’ve written here.

          Following your lead, I guess it would be simple to suggest that the religious Republicans, which you support, are the party of uncaring, unrealistic and pointless stupidity. The difference between our opinions is that mine has strong foundation and yours is meaningless fear driven twaddle.

        • Rev Timothy,
          You jumped right in there to side with men in their quest to yet again, dominate women, their bodies, and their autonomy when it comes to making decisions for themselves. It’s wrong for men to try to dominate and control everything in the world, and namely women and their bodies. We don’t know how the F women feel and what their experience are like. Back the F up men.
          Do you see women writing articles about men’s bodies? Do you see women lawmakers, blocking every initiative about men’s health? Have women denied men Viagra, the right to ejauclate wherever?
          Time is out for men to make all the rules. Let women have some say in their bodies and let us men just STFU.

  • Rev,

    You take my breath away, you’re so revolting. Do you really consider a fetus inside a rape victim “his [meaning the rapist’s] child”?

    Should he have equal say with his victim in the decision to terminate or not terminate the pregnancy?

      • You used to the term “his child” as though he [the rapist] had some ownership of it. Words have meanings. When you use a possessive pronoun it means possession.

        • I do not claim ‘ownership’ over my mother or my city or my president just by using possessive pronouns.

          I don’t doubt, Timothy, that a mother has a moral responsibility to a fetus she is carrying. I doubt strongly whether that responsibility is in most cases legally enforceable.

          But, by the same token, despite my own pro-choice stance I’ve yet to see a satisfying legal argument as to at what point the law confers legal rights on a developing fetus. The argument on the basis of a woman’s absolute privacy would indicate that euthanasia of a baby during labor would be an acceptable practice; I think there is little constitutional backing for such a claim.

            • From your link, Craig:

              “The legislation was both hailed and vilified by various legal observers who interpreted the measure as a step toward granting legal personhood to human fetuses, even though the bill explicitly contained a provision excepting abortion, stating that the bill would not “be construed to permit the prosecution” “of any person for conduct relating to an abortion for which the consent of the pregnant woman, or a person authorized by law to act on her behalf”, “of any person for any medical treatment of the pregnant woman or her unborn child” or “of any woman with respect to her unborn child.””

              • Very true. PW is in search of a satisfying legal argument. So much of legal standards have arbitrary boundaries. Legal age to vote, drink, marry, etc. Draw 3 circles that overlap at the center. Name one “Legal” the next “Moral/Ethical” and the third “Scientific.” There are times when they may be fully concentric, but not often. To have a law that calls for justice when a fetus is harmed by an explicit criminal act, but not when it is aborted, is an example. We as a society have to live with that dichotomy even if it troubles individual conscience, and find ways to transcend the situation from occurring.

  • “Whipping” your tax dollars into shape. — Planned Parenthood of Northern New England (PPNNE)–which received more than $2.75 million in government funding in 2012–has produced and posted online a video specifically aimed at teenagers that promotes bondage and sadomasochism (BDSM) and proposes “rules” to follow when engaging in these activities.

    “People sometimes think that those who practice BDSM are emotionally scarred or were once abused—not true, it’s a total myth,” the host of the video, Laci Green, informs its intended audience of teens.

    – See more at:

  • Abortion is very easy. We don’t have the answer, can’t agree on where to draw that line, but all of us have a sense there is something about it that is not quite right. At the same time, the value of the life, the future hopes and prospects of a young girl far outweigh that of a fetus. Further, if not legal, the young girl will too often find a way out anyway. Better to be safe.

    It’s not pretty, but there has to be a line, so we drew it, and will argue about it into the sunset and through the night. We’ll never agree.

    That’s why politicians love the abortion issue. It keeps us occupied, nothing else changes. They go about their real business serving their true constituency, their paymasters, while we argue among ourselves about this.

    I do despise the way that feminists and liberals make a sacrament out of abortion, using euphemisms like “privacy” and “choice.” Those are useful concepts, but it is “abortion,” and the question is whether we accept it or criminalize it. We will not stop it. Ever.

    • Well spoken Mark. All of it.

      I totally agree that “the question is whether we accept it or criminalize it. We will not stop it. Ever.”

      My only obligation is to speak for the safety and security of those who do not have a voice and whose will and feelings are not just at stake but their very life and being.

      Although we are never going to all agree, I think that we can reach a consensus of reasonable compromise which takes all parties into account.

    • It’s so refreshing to see a man like you speak for the “feminists.” Perhaps you can do some more explaining about the language they use.

      I’m quite sure they’d appreciate that.

          • Huge Tell, Don. Huge tell. My position on abortion is hardly “Abortion is murder.” I said “all of us sense that something is not quite right,” but that we have to allow it because the lives of mothers are more important than the fetus. So we draw lines.

            From that, you conclude that I believe that “abortion is murder.”

            That is black/white thinking, inability to deal with nuance, Don. Your thinking abilities are limited. You are not very good at this stuff. Stick to teaching our youth about the ambiguous world of politics.

    • ” the question is whether we accept it or criminalize it.”

      And yet you seem to doubt whether that is a question that ought to be seriously debated. Indeed, your position is that it should not be. But the fact is that it is a matter up for debate – will we be a society will rare and legal abortions, like the Netherlands, or frequent but illegal ones, like Mexico?

      Where I will agree with you is that no one talks about the half of the equation that will actually decrease abortions – implementing an adequate safety net and social mobility for young mothers.

      • If dignity and honor are given to the blessed vocation of motherhood, and both are taught to honor and respect the gift of life and the responsibility that they are given with this gift, then abortions will be reduced.

        Being treated like cattle, and merely fed and sheltered in barns will not dignify anyone. It will only lead to despair and guilt. Treated like animals, too many succumb and act like animals, with no control of their desires.

        • It would be great if that were true, Timothy. Evidence suggests that a strong safety net is more powerful than theoretical dignity. Or could it be that ensuring people’s food and shelter in fact gives them dignity? Either way, the Netherlands has one of the lowest rates of abortion in the world, where they honor and respect the gift of life by making sure everyone with it has a chance to be fed, sheltered, clothed, and educated.

          • Ha! I detect the Dutch sheep in Polish wolves clothing!

            I can’t find anything theoretical in lack of abortions within my parents, my wife, or any of my children. I pray to God that it lasts for many generations to come.

            Your euro-evangelism is misplaced. Holland is built on generations of the protestant work ethic. As a child in my 20’s (back when I thought like you) I visited family friends in Holland for two weeks. The man of the house was middle-aged, had only 2 fingers on his left hand, and was unemployed. His depression and tangibly seen despite all the government support he was on. Soon afterward he was employed again, and the letter we received announcing this was joyful. Hardly theoretical.

            I also know that Holland has a huge population shrinkage. I don’t even remember seeing anyone my age there while visiting, but then again we avoided the red light district and the pot bars. The whole place was very geriatric.

            And don’t forget that Shell Oil undergirds their entire system.

  • Slightly less than a hundred years ago, Bertrand Russell took real exception to the suggestion from Wittgenstein that any problem has a solution if viewed or discussed in the correct logical manner. Russell probably did more and better work showing that two logically valid thesis can still be true, even if they contradict each other, than anyone had before or likely has since. He’s the one who showed clearly the validity of the statement “For every rule there is an exception, save this one.”

    The upshot of that work is this: The facts are clear and contradictory in terms of a moral right. A zygote growing a womb is a potential for human life, and should be protected. That protection requires potential choices, many choices, on the part of the human life which embodies that womb. There is your contradiction, one of potentials. Regardless of any ‘consensus’, someone’s potential is being wronged by intrusion of unnecessary factors. Notice please that the unnecessary part here is your opinion.

    You, good Reverend, have absolutely no obligation to speak for anyone else with any logical validity at all. You can assume that you do, based solely on your biases and assumptions concerning religion, biology and morality; but in truth, it’s a hollow defense devoid of any authority. The only potential that confronts you, or that you have any voice in at all, is the removal of rights and voice and control from other living human beings. You have not one ounce of power to grant the potential of a zygote becoming a human being capable of choices and freedoms of their own. Not one. Just so that you don’t take me the wrong way, neither do I. You can, if you wish, claim that society has a responsibility to take potentials away from the host womb and it’s carrier to protect the potentials of a zygote. I might even agree with you, just as soon as society is willing to take full responsibility for the potentials of the parties they have stolen that potential from by force of law (consensus), both pre and post natal. We are not willing to take on that responsibility, of course. Given that society isn’t willing to accept responsibility for breeding and care of the species, I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for a “reasonable compromise”.

    Mark, as I’ve indicated to you an annoying number of times, abortion is no more of a hollow wedge issue than the environment, or civil rights for LGBT folks or anything else which gets used to pit voters against other voters. Progressives have no more of a handle on what’s really at stake than anyone else around you does, or does not. If all our ruling oligarchy wants is to protect their wealth and stay in power, and this is the true enemy we must fight, then perhaps you might want to consider that some of these social issues are precisely tied to our ability to take power back for ourselves. Frankly, a will that turns over half the population into brood stock is one of those things that seems to be getting organizational traction.

    • Long before Roe vs Wade, in the year of that decision, and in every year since, abortions have gone on as always. The people around Reagan, none of them Having any identifiable or apparent moral scruples, saw that the abortion issue had the potential to break up the New Deal coalition and to bring Christian fundamentalists, who tend to vote en masse and in predictable ways, into the fold. Jimmy Carter first reached them, but they were stolen away by Reagan, a legal abortion supporter while governor of CA.

      That’s all a abortion is – wedge. They’ll keep it going so long as it works. It’s been 42 years now and counting. Does that tell you something?

      • I’m rather surprised at your narrow view, Mark. ‘Abortion’ is just one facet of what has been dubbed a ‘war on women’. That’s not a simple wedge issue cause, that’s a full on socio-economic struggle. I’ll readily admit that gains are coming slowly, but it’s a ‘war’ that women, and society, are winning.

        The math is fairly simple. The percentage of the population that is fundamentally and actively religious is shrinking. The percentage of the population that are female remains relatively constant. The fastest growing demographic of political and social activists (dare I say ‘organizers’) is not Hispanic or racially motivated at all, despite the fears foisted by the political and religious power brokers. It’s women. They use the terms “privacy” and “choice” precisely because that directly attacks the power that has been held from them as exemplified in the case of the medical procedure of abortion. Regardless of whether you find those terms ‘euphemistic’ or annoying, they will likely keep using them because those words get straight to the heart of the issues concerning personal control and liberty you give airplay to, unless of course it annoys you.

    • Brood stock! That is real hope you give here. Is this what you call your own mother and the love and care she gave you?

      Not sure what exactly a zygote is if not fully human. So those who make simple choices like are not human, but those who make more complex choices are? Will you yourself someday become not fully human in your old age?

      A very sad and hopeless world is your sophistry.

      Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
      (John 8:12 ESV)

      Here is my sure hope, which dignifies and gives meaning even in human suffering, even for those whom some consider the most insignificant life among us.

      • The sophistry lies in your appeals to sentiment (you don’t know anything about my mother or my relationship with her), appeals to emotion, that somehow a world view not yours must be sad or hopeless, and appeals to the authority of a dusty old book full of fantastical pseudo-history.

        But I will give credit for this. Cloaking yourself in your gentle sophistries does bring any hope for rational discussion (or “reasonable compromise”) to a screeching halt.

        • The reasonable discussion grinds to a halt because he shove aside my argument as sentimental. Being human, it has a sentimental dimension, but I am certain about several facts about your mother. As a radical materialist you cannot deny the cost paid by your mother for your own existence. The pain, the midnight feedings, the gentle bathing, changing of diapers, and the material expense of it all. If that is merely being a baby factory, then there is no such thing as craft, and you are merely a tin man with no appreciation for the sacrifice another has made so that you could call her material care for you undignified.

          No, mother and apple pie are not accounted for by your radical materialism. Instead you denigrated and call it subversive subjection! Who subjected your mother to care for you? What kind of a human thinks like this?

  • Conservatives who are cowards do this. They babble about ‘protecting the unborn’, instead of battling massive, out-of-control illegal immigration, the massive outsourcing of jobs, not to mention the economy that is doomed to fail.

    But liberals need to remember that Obamacare will invade our privacy too: routine doctor visits will involve answering questions about your personal life, they have no damn business asking.

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