Legislators, Lobbyists Debate Women's Rights

Nov 29, 2012

There was little agreement between the panelists at a debate Wednesday night at the University of Utah over lawmakers’ recent decision to increase the state’s abortion waiting period.

Democratic Representative Carol Spackman Moss joined Republican Representative Brad Daw, Heather Stringfellow of Utah Planned Parenthood, and Gale Ruzicka, the president of the conservative Utah Eagle Forum in a debate over women’s health rights. The discussion focused mainly on legislation passed during this year’s legislative session that increases the abortion waiting period from one day to three. While not a legislator, Ruzicka played a very influential role in getting the legislation passed. She argues that making people wait before making a final decision about abortion is no different than the waiting periods required for many other big decisions people face.

“If you want to buy a car, and get a loan when you buy a car, guess what?" she says. "You have to wait three days. And what about adoption or sterilization, so goes the list. And we never question those things about waiting for three days.”

Representative Moss was one of a very small group of legislators that voted against the bill. She says while the legislation had good intentions she’s not convinced it will help reduce the number of elective abortions.

“Because I think that once a woman makes that very difficult and personal decision, whether she has to wait or not is probably not going to change her opinion.”

She also says that to begin to address these problems the state needs more sex education, not less.

“We have a lot of work to do in this area of women’s health and we should not be shying away from the most critical thing we can do for young people is to give them the knowledge to make good decisions,” she says.

While the two women disagreed on almost every point during the debate they did at least agree on one thing. They are both opposed to any legislation defining personhood. The John R. Park Debate Society at the University of Utah organized and moderated the event.