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GOP lawmaker says she trusts Utah women to control their ‘semen consumption’ as abortion trigger law goes into effect

Republican lawmakers and politicians in Utah on Friday celebrated the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, a lawmaker saying she trusted Utah women “to control [their] sperm supply.

Rep. Karianne Lisonbee described a text message she said she received urging her to hold men accountable for unwanted pregnancies.

“I got a text today saying I should seek to control male ejaculations not female pregnancies…I trust women enough to control when they allow a man to ejaculate inside their ‘them and to control that sperm consumption,’ Clearfield said. The Republican told reporters during a press conference at the Utah Capitol on Friday.

Lisonbee also said she wanted to reassure Utahans that lawmakers want them to get justice after sexual assaults.

Rep. Angela Romero, who has championed legislation to support survivors of sexual assault in Beehive State, said she doesn’t think her colleague meant to be ‘harmful’ with her remarks on Friday, but a survivor may read it and think their elected officials don’t believe them when they say they were raped or sexually assaulted.

“We need to be sensitive to how we say things because what we say impacts not just the people we represent, but the entire state of Utah,” said Romero, D-Salt. Lake City.

There are people who are put in compromising situations where they cannot give consent, the rep said. So it’s important not to paint abortion and the people who access it with a broad brush, she said, and to make sure they get the resources and help they need.

“Sexual assaults in Utah are common, though often go unreported,” Sonya Martinez-Ortiz, executive director of the Rape Recovery Center of Utah, told the Salt Lake Tribune.

A 2016 study by Utah State University found that one in six women in Utah reported being raped, which is higher than the national average.

“We believe that consent and bodily autonomy are fundamental and essential rights to support and empower survivors of sexual assault,” Martinez-Ortiz said. “We will continue to advocate and educate for laws that do not cause continued harm to survivors.”

Lisonbee was one of several Republican lawmakers who voiced support for Friday’s conservative court ruling.

“I believe that as Americans we must protect the lives of not just unborn children, we must be respectful of all life, and I hope that is what the Supreme Court did today” , said Utah Senate President Stuart Adams, R-Layton.

Adams and other lawmakers were flanked by a phalanx of familiar faces in Utah’s pro-life community. The brigade of activists and politicians included Eagle Forum President Gayle Ruzicka and 3rd Congressional District candidate Chris Herrod.

They welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision, saying it was never appropriate to take that decision away from individual states.

“Fifty years ago, the Supreme Court created the ability to perform abortions in the state of Utah, despite the fact that it was against the law. Today the Supreme Court restored that power to the state,” Sen. Dan McCay, R-Riverton, told reporters.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Senator Dan McCay answers questions about Utah’s trigger law, SB174, which will ban elective abortion in Utah, during a press conference at the State Capitol, after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Friday, June 24, 2022.

In 2020, McCay led a so-called “trigger law” through the legislature. It banned most abortions in the state, with a few exceptions, but it wouldn’t take effect unless the Supreme Court ever reversed the Roe v. Wade. At the time, McCay’s bill was considered a mere political stunt, and even he thought there was very little chance of it happening.

“When this was passed, many asked if it was just a messaging bill,” McCay said. “We didn’t plan for this. We wanted to reaffirm where Utah was on the abortion issue as it was being questioned across the United States.

Utah’s law, SB174, went into effect Friday night after the Legislature’s general counsel concluded that the decision met the trigger law’s legal requirements for the state to ban abortion.

Friday’s decision is a seismic shift in public policy and raises more than a few questions about how the law will be implemented now that a medical procedure that was widely available in the state for half a century has become illegal. in one day.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Rep. Karianne Lisonbee, answers questions about Utah’s trigger law, SB174, during a press conference at the State Capitol, after the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade, Friday, June 24, 2022.

Lisonbee said she doesn’t expect lawmakers to take any further action to prevent women from traveling to other states where abortion is still legal because Utah law punishes abortion providers, not pregnant women.

“I don’t think it’s contemplated that we try to control a woman’s ability to travel or have an abortion elsewhere,” Lisonbee said. “Certainly, if anyone wants to do that, it’s a free country and we wouldn’t be the type of authoritarian government that would prevent that.”

With the option of terminating a pregnancy mostly off the table in Utah, Lisonbee also said the state should do more to strengthen the social safety net in the state.

“I think we’ve done a lot in Utah to follow that path,” she said. “I think we need to empower people to make wise choices for themselves.”

Several Democrats in the Legislative Assembly were already making noise that they plan to introduce legislation in the 2023 session to loosen some of the restrictions currently in place. The President of the Senate, however, quickly threw water on this idea.

“We have a bill that the Legislative Assembly supported and that we have put in place. It will be the law,” Adams said. “My feeling is that we should give this bill a chance to be law and actually find out the pros and cons and how it works before we start cleaning it up.”

As one might imagine with a politically charged topic like reproductive rights, there has been backlash directed at Republican members of the Legislative Assembly, including outright threats.

McCay, who shared a voicemail he received with the Salt Lake Tribune, reported a caller who threatened his safety to law enforcement.

“Just to let you know if abortions aren’t safe, neither are you,” the caller says in the post.

On Friday, Justice Clarence Thomas argued that the Supreme Court should revisit other rulings on burning social issues, including the legalization of same-sex marriage. Utah’s constitutional ban on same-sex unions still exists and could be reinstated if the Supreme Court overturns its earlier ruling. Adams said he thinks it would be appropriate based on today’s decision.

“I strongly believe that states should have the right to make laws and that states should be where these issues are determined,” Adams said, adding that he doesn’t see Utah pressing the Supreme Court to reconsider. .

But would he support Utah joining other states in hopes the court would reconsider same-sex marriage?

“Yeah,” Adams said without hesitation.

Tribune reporters Becky Jacobs and Anastasia Hufham contributed to this report.

Mary Cashion

The author Mary Cashion