Gov. Norm Bangerter said Thursday he did not confer with leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on a restrictive abortion bill he expects to sign into law by the end of the week.
"I have not discussed this bill or any abortion bill with the church. I have not sought advice from the church nor have they volunteered advice," the governor said during his monthly news conference televised on KUED Channel 7.But he acknowledged that his beliefs as member of the LDS Church influenced his views on abortion. "Obviously, I cannot separate myself from what I am and my upbringing. But it's not the controlling factor."
Bangerter told lawmakers in his State of the State address last week that he supports restricting abortions to cases of rape or incest or where a mother's life or health is threatened or fatal fetal deformity.
The address also included a promise that he would veto any bill not meeting those conditions, a reference to a legislative task force bill that contained even more restrictions than the governor was proposing.
He said the annual speech to the Legislature was not influenced by a statement on abortion issued only three days earlier by the LDS Church. That statement outlined a position nearly identical to the governor's.
"I was grateful for their statement because it coincided with what I had been telling the people who wrote the bill, that it went too far," Bangerter said.
The governor said Thursday that it wasn't until after his State of the State address that supporters of the legislative task force bill were willing to make compromises he could support.
Also during the half-hour press conference, Bangerter defended his decision not to request an opinion on the constitutionality of the abortion bill from Attorney General Paul Van Dam.
Bangerter said he has talked with Van Dam and that the attorney general has agreed to defend it.
Bangerter said he and Van Dam agreed that "in all likelihood," the attorney general would have to find that the bill is unconstitutional based on existing U.S. Supreme Court rulings.