KALISPELL – The new offices of the only health care professional who provides abortion services in Kalispell were broken into late Monday night or early Tuesday morning and heavily vandalized.
Kalispell police and FBI agents were on the scene Tuesday.
Physician assistant Susan Cahill said All Families Healthcare had just opened at its new location at 505 First Ave. E. three weeks ago, and that the damage was extensive.
“There are people who have to deal with natural disasters, but this is an act of terrorism,” Cahill said. “That makes it in some ways even more painful.”
A receptionist discovered the break-in when she arrived at work at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday. Cahill said the vandal or vandals entered by breaking the window of a back door to the offices.
They did so just hours before the installation of a security system at the new office space was scheduled to be completed. Cahill said security cameras were set up and operational, but had not yet been hidden. She did not know if the cameras captured images during the break-in.
“I haven’t been allowed in,” Cahill said. “The only thing I saw was the lab, and the lab area is just a disaster. The police said it’s so destroyed, and they need to go through everything.”
“They said we’ll need to brace ourselves before we see it,” added Cahill’s husband, Steve Martinez. “This is local, and it’s very personal toward Susan.”
Blue Mountain Clinic Family Practice of Missoula issued a statement later Tuesday condemning what it called a “reprehensible attack.”
“Susan Cahill’s dedication to women and their families may be vilified by portions of our population, but it is through the strength of our movement and the bravery of our nurses, providers, and staff that Montana women are able to access safe and legal abortion services,” said the statement from Lynsey Bourke, director of development, outreach and communications at Blue Mountain.
Cahill has been a physician assistant in Kalispell for almost 40 years, and involved in family medicine since 1976.
Her clinic was firebombed in 1994 and forced to shut down for five months. A Washington man named Richard Andrews was convicted of firebombing it, and seven other clinics in four states that provided abortions, including ones in Missoula and Helena.
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All Families Healthcare is not an abortion clinic, Cahill said, but a family practice that provides abortion services to women who request them.
“It’s a part of health care, in my mind,” Cahill said. “It’s part of the whole service. There are times women want children, and times they don’t.”
The PA said she did not know what would happen with her practice, or what to tell her patients.
“There’s no way I can answer that right now,” she said. “This is a very, very, very sad thing to me. So I’ll have to figure it out. Right now I don’t know. I have no idea what to tell them.”
Cahill said she gave law enforcement the name of a person she said had once offered her money to stop performing abortions, and also encouraged them to investigate who had purchased the building where she had previously leased office space.
“It was purchased by someone after someone offered to pay Susan to stop doing abortions,” Martinez said.
The building was purchased after Cahill turned down the financial offer.
“We were told the purchaser was going to occupy the space and Susan could not lease it any longer,” Martinez said. “But it’s sitting there empty now, and up for lease.”
Cahill said the new owner is listed as a corporation. All Families Healthcare was given three months to vacate the premises Nov. 7, she said.
“It’s my belief they wanted me out, and hoped I wouldn’t find another place,” she said.
All Families Healthcare moved to the new location Feb. 7, and Cahill began seeing patients there Feb. 11.