Most Utahns think the negative public-relations campaign and boycotts organized against the state by opponents of the new anti-abortion law will harm the state's image, the latest Deseret News/KSL-TV poll shows.
And nearly 50 percent think something should be done by Gov. Norm Bangerter and legislative leaders to counter the bad publicity, pollster Dan Jones & Associates found.Several weeks ago, the American Civil Liberties Union bought a full-page advertisement in the New York Times criticizing Utah for adopting the tough law.
Last week the National Organization for Women and the National Abortion Rights Action League announced separately that they will seek boycotts of Utah - hoping to harm the ski industry, convention- and other tourist-related businesses.
NARAL says it has a half-million members who will receive in their April newsletter a coupon to be filled out and mailed to Bangerter saying they won't visit or spend money in Utah.
In a poll completed just last week, Jones found that 62 percent of Utahns greatly or somewhat believe the boycotts and other negative publicity will harm Utah's image. A third said the boycotts won't really harm the state's image and 4 percent didn't know.
Bangerter says he won't respond specifically to the boycotts. He says the abortion matter is now before the courts, where it belongs. Aside from criticizing actions by the ACLU, NOW and others, legislative leaders also don't plan any specific counteraction. But nearly 50 percent of Utahns do want something done, Jones found.
Fifteen percent think state officials should counter negative advertisements about the state with specific response ads of its own. Twenty-three percent said tourist recruitment should be increased. And 11 percent suggest some other kind of response to the negative advertisements - such as suing the ACLU or other offending parties - or said the law should just be repealed, Jones found.
Forty-one percent support the governor's stand - just ignore the negative advertisements and boycotts.
"Some of the more seasoned members (of the Senate) say we should ignore them (the boycotts)," says freshman Sen. Scott Howell, D-Salt Lake. "But I'm beside myself with anger, especially at NOW. If these (pro-choice) groups had worked within the system, worked lobbying in the Legislature, we could have sent this bill back for more study in a Senate committee. But no. They wait until it passes and then call for boycotts."
The American Civil Liberties Union and other groups opposed to Utah's new, tough anti-abortion law are attempting to influence public opinion by running national advertisements criticizing Utah and calling for tourist boycotts. Do you think these actions will harm the state's image?
Yes, greatly 23%
Yes, somewhat 39%
No, not really 33%
Don't know 4%
In your opinion, which, if any, of the following responses should Governor Bangerter or the state legislature take to counter the ACLU's action:
Counter the advertisements with state-funded advertising campaign: 15%
Step up tourist recruitment 23%
Ignore the advertisements 41%
Other (specify) 11%
Don't know 9%