The National Organization for Women is extending its boycott of Utah in protest of the country's
most restrictive abortion law, NOW president Molly Yard said Saturday - it has launched a campaign to torpedo the state's Olympics bid.Salt Lake City is in the final running for the 1998 Winter Olympics, and Yard told a convention of about 100 members of the Utah NOW that the group is writing to the International Olympics Committee in an attempt to derail the bid. The convention was held in the Salt Lake County Commission Chambers, 2001 S. State.
"We will of course be pushing the Utah boycott because you have the worst law in the continental United States," Yard said. Already, according to conference-goers, conventions in Utah have been canceled because of the national boycott.
She quoted a report that one criterion used by the IOC to select host cities for the Olympic games is, "Can you guarantee there will be no demonstrations?" At this, the audience guffawed.
NOW is writing to the committee, saying, "There will undoubt
edly be demonstrations," she said.
Yard also predicted other mass demonstrations if things go against the organization's positions. "When and if the Supreme Court takes up the (abortion) cases that are coming - and they're coming . . . we'll send out a call, and we want 1 million of you in Washington saying to the Supreme Court, `Don't you dare, don't you dare.' "
Two Salt Lake County deputy sheriffs stood in the commission chambers, surveying the audience. Apparently they were pres-ent because, according to a Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office report, a caller had phoned NOW's office at 3300 S. 700 East, saying that Yard would not be safe when she went to the conference, that she wouldn't be able to get to the conference.When people try to force restrictive abortion laws on others, laws that amount to an exercise in forcing religious views on others, Yard said, it is "indeed a battle for the very basis and freedom of this country . . .
"This is no little thing that is going on in this country. This is a fundamental battle for freedom! Freedom for women." The audience applauded at that.
The new abortion law will force Utah women to get illegal "back-alley" abortions, she said.
"We're calling Utah the back-alley state, because that's what it is now."
The law won't stop abortions, Yard added. "What it will mean is that women will die, because illegal abortions are very unsafe. That crowd (the anti-abortion group) couldn't care less about the women's lives that they are putting on the line."
Rebecca Elliott, coordinator of the Utah NOW, said the convention's slogan "Pro-Choice, Pro-Life, Pro-Justice" reflects the idea that NOW's position is "the only pro-life position," because women need choices in their lives.
Lynne Tempest, editor of Network Magazine, said, "I would like to applaud NOW for keeping Utah's restrictive abortion issue in the headlines . . . Our governor and legislators are lying when they say they passed this legislation to protect human lives. We know better."
She said the restrictive abortion bill really was passed to "punish women" for being independent. People attended the conference to figure out how to repeal this "dangerous" and "abominable" abortion law, she said.
With a special legislative session five days away, she passed out hundreds of sheets of paper, pens, stamped envelopes and lists of legislators' addresses, then asked the audience to "bombard our legislators with letters, telephone calls."
Tempest announced that was the start of a grass-roots movement to repeal the law and said it wouldn't stop until the law was removed. "Call 10 more people tonight and get them to write 10 more letters," she said.