Anti-abortion group endorses Republican Tim Sheehy for Montana US Senate seat

Tim Sheehy, founder of Bridger Aerospace and Ascent Vision, pauses during a tour of the company’s facility on Friday, Aug. 30, 2022 in Belgrade, Mont. Sheehy announced Tuesday, June 27, 2023, that he’ll seek the 2024 GOP nomination to challenge Montana Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester. (Rachel Leathe/Bozeman Daily Chronicle via AP)

An anti-abortion group is taking sides in Montana’s Republican U.S. Senate primary, endorsing businessman Tim Sheehy on the basis of what it calls his “pro-life values.”

Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, which works to elect anti-abortion candidates across the country, endorsed Sheehy in a statement posted to its website on Jan. 30. Rep. Matt Rosendale, another anti-abortion Republican, is also expected to enter the race to take on Democratic Sen. Jon Tester in the general election in November.

“Tim Sheehy understands how the Democrats’ reckless abortion agenda hurts women and children, especially in rural communities whose true health care needs are underserved. He is the best candidate to get the job done and will fight for Montana’s pro-life values in the U.S. Senate,” Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, said in the news release.

Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America says it wants a nationwide abortion ban at 15 weeks’ gestation. Dannenfelser told the New York Times in April 2023 that her group will oppose any candidate who does not “embrace at a minimum a 15-week national standard.”

Sheehy has not said publicly at what point in a pregnancy he would ban abortion; however, on his campaign website, he describes himself as “proudly pro-life” and says, “I believe the most precious gift from God is life and that we have a responsibility to protect and defend the most vulnerable in our society from our children to our seniors.”

Sheehy touted his endorsement from Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, tweeting on Jan. 30: “As the father of four young children, I am proudly Pro-Life and honored to be endorsed by @sbaprolife. … Together, we will protect the most vulnerable, proudly stand for life, and support Montana parents and kids!”

While the group endorsed Sheehy, it has also supported Rosendale. It funded ads and conducted get-out-the-vote efforts for Rosendale’s failed 2018 Senate campaign against Tester. 

“Rep. Rosendale has stood up against the ever-growing pro-abortion agenda of the Biden-Harris administration and the radical bureaucrats who are actively working to expand abortion access, resources, and funding,” the group posted as part of its “National Pro-Life Scorecard” for the current Congress. “Rep. Rosendale has voted consistently to defend the lives of the unborn and infants. This includes stopping hard-earned tax dollars from paying for abortion, including abortion travel expenses, whether domestically or internationally, and pushing back on the administration’s extreme abortion executive actions.”

While both Sheehy and Rosendale are against abortion, polling shows that a majority of voters in the state support reproductive rights. 

A February 2023 poll by the Democratic firm Searchlight Research found that six in 10 Montanans believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

What’s more, in 2022, Montana voters rejected a ballot measure that would have declared embryos and fetuses to be legal persons and would have made it a crime for doctors to not provide care to infants who survive abortions, which is rare. 

Democratic Sen. Jon Tester, for his part, supports abortion rights.

According to Tester’s Senate website, “Jon knows that the federal government shouldn’t stand between a woman and her doctor and that all Montanans deserve high quality care. … He is helping to lead the fight in Congress to guarantee privacy for women to make their own medical decisions.”