Women object to Kalispell legislator’s words

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Some comments a Kalispell legislator made last week about the value of pregnant cattle in relation to a bill about pregnant women have caused a stir.

When speaking before the Senate Judiciary Committee about HB 167 (which would criminalize the death of an unborn child), Rep. Keith Regier, R-Kalispell, noted the value of a cow increases if the cow is pregnant.

That comment didn’t go over well with two women from Planned Parenthood of Montana and the state chapter of the National Abortion Rights Action League.

Lindsay Love and Julianna Crowley complained about Regier’s comments.

“Putting women in the same category as animals is inherently disrespectful,” the women said in a letter. “The comparison to livestock is even more degrading because farm animals are property and are managed as commodities for farms and corporations.”

The women said that Regier’s “antics are just one more example of the misogyny and anti-women rhetoric that floods the hallways of the Montana Legislature this session.”

The letter said “it is outrageous and disappointing that the new breed of lawmakers operating in the Montana Capitol would single-mindedly devote their energies to demolishing the foundation of justice we have worked so hard to build.”

Regier’s comments, which also included a reference to unfinished buildings having value, originally drew objections from Senate Minority Leader Carol Williams, D-Missoula, Sen. Kim Gillan, D-Billings, and Sen. Lynda Moss, D-Billings.

The women demanded a public apology from Regier.

In response, Regier sent an e-mail where he noted he made the same comments in testimony in the House Judiciary Committee and on the House floor.

“No one said anything about the illustration being offensive, so I was surprised when the complaint was raised. My intent is not of offend anyone,” he wrote. “Had anyone complained earlier, I would have changed my testimony.”

Regier finished by saying he would rather debate issues than individuals.

The bill would make it a crime to hurt a pregnant woman and consequently cause the death of her unborn child. “This would put a value on a desired pregnancy and in no way would infringe on a woman’s right to choose” to end her pregnancy, Regier said.

Some 38 states currently have fetal homicide laws in place, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

In an e-mail, Chris Shipp, the House Republicans’ spokesman, accused the Democratic state senators of “slinging mud and misrepresenting the statements of fellow legislators.” Shipp called HB167 “common-sense legislation.”

The bill passed the House by a vote of 68-30 in January.

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