Gov. Norm Bangerter hasn't decided yet whether to support legislation banning most abortions, but he has made up his mind about the American Civil Liberties Union's threat to sue the state if the bill becomes law.
"I'm kind of fed up with people whose only answer to every subject is, `Let's have a lawsuit,' " the governor said during his monthly televised press conference Wednesday on KUED Channel 7.The ACLU of Utah has promised to take the state to court if a bill - considered one of the most restrictive in the nation - that was drafted by the state's Abortion Task Force is approved by the Legislature.
While Bangerter said he continues to be concerned about spending tax dollars on losing legal battles, he insisted he isn't going to be intimidated by the ACLU threat.
"I don't think I've developed a reputation of letting lawyers or lawsuits dictate whether we make good, sound, public policy," the governor said. The issue, he said, is whether the bill can stand up to U.S. Supreme Court scrutiny.
During the 1990 Legislature, Bangerter convinced lawmakers not to tackle the issue even though a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling opened the door for states to restrict abortion.
The governor's concern then was that the state could find itself in another expensive legal fight, similar to the losing battle over regulating cable television that cost taxpayers $800,000.
Lawmakers went along with the governor's request, but passed a resolution creating the Abortion Task Force to come up with legislation for the next session.
The bill approved by the task force earlier this week bans most abortions, making exceptions only for rape, incest and the mother's or baby's ability to survive childbirth.
Also Wednesday, the governor said Chase Manhattan Bank may still open a credit-card processing facility in Utah, even though the company has decided to expand in Tempe, Ariz.
Asked if Utah lost the facility because it did not offer as many economic incentives as Arizona did, the governor said the state emphasizes quality of life and similar benefits instead.
"We're not going to buy people coming in," Bangerter said, adding that states that do push tax breaks and other economic incentives "will pay for that in the long run."
The governor said he has been assured by officials of the bank that Utah will likely be the site of future expansion.