A Brief History
After abortion became legalized in 1973, a group of strong, feminist, women realized the need for an abortion clinic in Missoula. In 1977 Blue Mountain Women’s Clinic opened its doors as the first and only clinic providing abortions in the state of Montana in a small office located on Front Street. One year later it moved into a more suitable office on Kensington Avenue. By 1991, the community had spoken and BMC listened. Services migrated from strictly reproductive to offering care to the entire family; women, men, children, and everyone in between. To reflect these changes, the name was changed to Blue Mountain Clinic.
On March 29th, 1993 at approximately 4 am the clinic was firebombed and completely destroyed by an anti-choice arsonist, Richard Andrews. It was later discovered that he was also responsible for setting clinics on fire throughout Idaho and Washington. As our community came together with us in solidarity to rebuild, we realized that our resilience in the face of adversity is truly a reflection of strong community support.
Blue Mountain Clinic is a mission-driven 501(c)3 non-profit corporation organized in the state of Montana and is governed by a volunteer board of directors. Located at 610 N California Street in Missoula, MT, we are the only independent, non-government funded primary and family medicine clinic in the United States that has fully integrated family medicine, mental health counseling, reproductive care, and comprehensive trans* care into our daily practice. We are not subsidized by any government money, are not a title X organization and do not offer a sliding fee scale for services. Because of this we are not eligible for many programs that offer amenities such as discounted birth control, sliding scales and large government grants. While such programs can be beneficial, we have always held the belief that we do not want federal regulations to influence how we care for our patients. This status does allow us to have complete autonomy in how we provide care while staying committed to our mission.
BMC directly impacts the lives of over 10,000 patients per year who access a wide range of health services within our choice-based, primary medicine model. This is evidenced by the fact that 25% of our clients are traveling 50 miles or more to receive care at BMC. In addition to our primary and reproductive care clients, we have been providing care to transgender patients throughout the Northern Rockies for over 16 years. In 2012, after receiving a grant from the Pride Foundation, we further strengthened our Trans* care through training, advocacy and marketing. Because of these trainings we have more than quadrupled the number of trans* identified patients we care for ranging in age from 9 to 72 years old. Our Medical Director Eric Ravitz, DO has been with the clinic for 17 years, our female MD Dr. Joey banks 5 years, Kelly Polus PA-C 13 years, Alison Charman, ARNP 6 years, and our mental health counselors have been with us for 10 years. Most of our support staff have been working at Blue Mountain Clinic for over 10 years.
BMC is devoted to the belief that access to quality healthcare vastly improves the quality and dignity of life. Our advocacy efforts are driven by the realities that race, class, and gender intersect at the core of oppression and are directly linked to the cause of inequality. It is our belief that healthcare should be a basic human right. It is proven that low-income individuals are more likely to experience health problems and unexpected pregnancies which make it nearly impossible to overcome poverty. We see our work as a fundamental piece within the greater social justice movement to empower and educate individuals. We believe this will improve their ability to make informed choices. We are providing pathways to social justice for young activists through our Entrust You(th) program. We continue to train resident doctors within our choice-based model of care in the hopes that they will eventually practice medicine in rural areas of Montana currently lacking services, and ultimately spread this knowledge. By allowing more clients and conversations through our doors with additional space we can further succeed in moving these values forward to touch significantly more people. At Blue Mountain Clinic, we truly live and breathe reproductive justice and advocate for health care for all every single day.
On March 29, 1993- anti-choice activists firebombed Blue Mountain Clinic in a violent attempt to stop the clinic from providing legal access to abortion care.
The arsonist destroyed the clinic. Fortunately, no one was harmed; and the Missoula community responded in an almost immediate call to rebuild.
After two and a half years of tears, sweat and generous support, the clinic was back on its feet in a new building specifically designed to withstand another attack. In September of 1995, the Clinic reopened in our current location on California Street. In 2013, Blue Mountain Clinic celebrated 20 years since the attack in 1993.
If YOU are one of the many who have been touched or moved by Blue Mountain Clinic over the years, share your stories and inspiring legacy with the Blue Mountain Clinic History Project.
Blue Mountain Clinic is an Independent 501 (c) 3, non-profit organization that receives NO government funding. All donations are tax deductible.
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