All Families Healthcare, a family medicine and reproductive health-care facility in Kalispell, Montana—one of four abortion clinics in the state—was broken into late Monday night and severely vandalized. Susan Cahill, a physician assistant who manages the office, told Rewire that she believes the break-in was part of a coordinated effort to intimidate the facility into no longer providing abortion care.
On Tuesday morning, All Families Healthcare’s receptionist found that the window to the side door of the facility had been broken and notified local law enforcement. After police arrived, they did not allow Cahill or other employees to enter the building for an entire day due to the extent of the damage. As can be seen in photos provided by Cahill to Rewire (below), throughout the facility furniture, equipment, and records were damaged and destroyed, and nearly every piece of glass was broken.
All Families Healthcare is closed indefinitely while Cahill assesses the damage and determines how to move forward.
The center had just moved into the building in February, after the facility’s previous landlord said he was selling that property.
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The Flathead Beacon reports that a suspect, Zachary Jordan Klundt, was arrested Tuesday in connection with the break-in. (He was arrested while law enforcement were responding to an unrelated break-in.) Police say he could face charges of felony criminal mischief, attempted burglary, and theft.
Klundt is the son of Twyla Klundt, who is a board member of Hope Pregnancy Ministries, an anti-choice crisis pregnancy center in Kalispell. Cahill says members of the Klundt family have used extreme rhetoric against her and her family. For instance, she says Twyla Klundt has told patients who see Cahill’s husband, who is an acupuncturist, that he “does the work of the devil.”
Cahill says she has a hard time expressing her feelings about the break-in. “It comes in waves, but it’s an incredible shock that anybody could have such hate and anger that they would do something like this,” she said, adding that there is “no doubt in [her] mind” that the vandalization occurred because the office provides abortions.
From 1993 to 1994, extreme anti-choice activist Richard T. Andrews set fire to seven abortion clinics across four states; among those were clinics in Helena and Missoula, Montana, as well as a clinic formerly run by Cahill in Kalispell.
According to NARAL Pro-Choice America, since 1993 eight clinic workers have been murdered and there have been 17 attempted murders. Since 1977, there have been more than 6,100 reported acts of violence against abortion providers and more than 156,000 reported acts of disruptions and threats.
Over the past year, a suspect was arrested and charged for attempting to burn down a Planned Parenthood clinic in Joplin, Missouri, and a Wisconsin man was sentenced ten years in prison for plotting to kill an abortion provider. In addition, a Wichita, Kansas, pastor and anti-choice activist is currently standing trial for stalking an abortion provider.
Fear of clinic violence has led to cities like Madison, Wisconsin, passing buffer zone ordinances to protect individuals entering and leaving facilities. (Legislation that would create a similar buffer zone is currently pending in the New Hampshire legislature.)
While All Families Healthcare is closed, access to safe, legal abortions in the state has suffered. Emily Likins, a spokesperson at Blue Mountain Clinic, the Missoula facility that was burned in the ’90s, told Rewire that the clinic has recently seen a staggering increase in the number of patients it sees. The clinic had already taken on the patients of Mountain Country Women’s Clinic in Livingston, three hours away, after the abortion provider there retired in August. The clinic is now also absorbing patients from Kalispell, which is a two-hour drive away.
But Susan Cahill says she remains “painfully committed” to providing reproductive health care for women. “If women don’t band together and understand that this violence against me is also violence against them, then we’re just going to end up back [as things were] before [abortion] was legal,” she said.
Photos of All Families Healthcare after the break-in (credit: Steve Martinez):