To the editor:

This is in response to Sen. Scott Howell's statements reported in "Utahns think boycotts will hurt" on April 17. Howell indicated that the National Organization for Women should have worked within the political system, implying that the anti-abortion bill passed by this year's Legislature could have been sent back to committee if we had done so. I'd like to set the record straight.During both the 1990 and 1991 legislative sessions, Utah NOW lobbied legislators. We sent information, made telephone calls, and met personally with representatives. I testified during this session before the House Health Committee against the bill and would have gladly testified before the Senate Health Committee if that committee had allowed enough time for everyone present to speak.

During my testimony, I said that pro-abortion rights supporters would avoid Utah if the bill passed and that this bill would damage the state's already repressive reputation. It is interesting that when we worked within the system no one heard what we had to say. They only heard us after the bill was passed and the state's pocketbook was pinched.

It is Howell's political naivete which makes him believe that the bill could have been sent back to committee. Everyone on both sides of the issue knew the bill would be passed if it was introduced on the floor.

The real reason Howell is angry is that people from both sides of this debate have been pressuring him because he can't seem to make up his mind on this issue. Before the election he said that he would not vote for a restrictive abortion bill that would cost the state money to defend, that the money would be better spent on education.

During floor debate, he has made conflicting statements and cast conflicting votes. Howell told me that it would be political suicide for him to vote against SB23, resulting in his defeat during the next election and thus reducing the ranks of the Democrats. If he votes like a Republican, what does it matter that he is a Democrat?

Howell is "beside himself with anger" at the wrong group. He should be angry with his colleagues for passing a law that triggered national outrage. People will stop boycotting Utah when the Legislature acts responsibly and repeals this deadly, unconstitutional anti-abortion law.

Rebecca Elliot

Executive coordinator

Utah NOW