BILLINGS — As a large crowd gathered at the Yellowstone County courthouse lawn Tuesday afternoon in support of abortion rights, leaders on both sides of the abortion debate weighed in on a possible future without Roe v. Wade.
Opinions differ on what overturning Roe v. Wade could mean for Montana.
Cindy Nordstog is the CEO of LaVie Pregnancy Clinic in Billings, which encourages women to seek alternatives to abortion.
“I do believe in the sanctity and value of all human life and so I do think that this is a win for women quite honestly,” Nordstog said.
Others, like Martha Fuller, CEO and president of Planned Parenthood Montana, see it as a setback for women’s rights.
“For 50 years, we’ve relied upon the Roe decision to protect access to abortion in this country. It’s long been considered settled law, and it’s something that we rely upon,” Fuller said.
Many were caught off guard by Tuesday’s report from the online news site Politico, which included a leaked a U.S. Supreme Court draft opinion suggesting Roe v. Wade would being overturned.
“The leak, I think is absolutely unprecedented,” said Fuller.
Fuller says she’s terrified at what this could mean for women in Montana and across the country.
“It’s very concerning to me that we will have such a patchwork across the country of the ability of pregnant people to access abortion services,” said Fuller.
Others, like Nordstog, are hopeful.
“I’m cautiously optimistic, if I’m going to be honest, I mean, it’s not the final say and so we want to be cautious,” Nordstog said.
If the landmark ruling is overturned,abortion would still be legal here in Montana, at least for now because of the state’s constitution.
However, Montana is surrounded by states with “trigger laws,” including Wyoming, Idaho and North and South Dakota. These laws are essentially bans designed to go into effect if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
That means Montana could become a haven for those seeking abortions.
“Here in Montana, we already see a large number of patients coming from the Dakotas, and Wyoming, and to some extent, Idaho,” Fuller said.
Nordstog believes pregnancy clinics like LaVie are needed now more than ever.
“I think at LaVie, we will see more people in a mode of ‘okay, now tell me about my options, tell me about what’s going on,’” Nordstog said.
What is certain is that both organizations will likely see a flood of new patients.