Utah's Olympic organizers shouldn't be concerned about attempts to derail Utah's bid for the 1998 Winter Olympics by abortion rights activists.
Both the recent history of International Olympic Committee decisions and committee members' reaction to the current boycott probably all mean the issue isn't likely to sway many votes, if any.First take a look at recent IOC decisions. If you applied the abortion rights activitists' logic that restrictive abortion laws should mean no Olympics to recent history the IOC wouldn't have chosen two of the sites - Seoul, Korea, for the 1988 Summer Games and Barcelona, Spain, for the 1992 Summer Games. Both countries allow abortion only if the mother's life is endangered, if the fetus is malformed or the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest.
That's because it is similar to the language adopted by the Utah Legislature that prompted the abortion-related boycott.
While pro-abortion protesters spotlight Utah, they don't talk about the abortion laws of other candidates for the 1998 Winter Olympics. Given their line of reasoning, both Salt Lake City and Jaca, Spain, would be on the disqualified list.
At the same time, the most "politically correct" would be Ostersund, Sweden, where abortion is defined explicity as a right of a pregnant women and can be obtained on demand through 18 weeks of pregnancy. A close second would be Italy, where abortion is granted on demand in the first three months of pregnancy. In addition, Nagano, Japan, has a de facto "abortion on demand law" because no formal authorization is required for abortion although Japanese law formally restricts abortions to pregnancy caused by rape or incest or if it results in economic burden.
Pro-abortion activists maintain their quarrel is only with Utah and not with the other candidates. They say Utah isn't representative of United States' abortion laws. What they fail to say is that in both the world and the United States the question about what is "representative" abortion law is hardly resolved.
For example, currently state legislatures across the nation have been moving to restrict their abortion laws, including Alabama and Lousiana.
Furthermore, about 40 percent of the world's populations live in countries with similar or more restrictive abortion laws than Utah. Another 40 percent lives in countries where induced abortion is permitted by request, according to a 1990 report prepared by the New York-based Alan Guttmacher Institute. The other 20 percent of the world's population lives in smaller countries not counted in the study.
If the International Olympic Committee was prone to pay attention to such things, which it isn't, the "representative" line of logic would conclude that Olympic hosts would be drawn from a representative number of countries with restrictive and liberal abortion laws.
Of course, all this shouldn't make any difference in the selection of an Olympic host. On a visit to Salt Lake City, IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch called the issue a local one and rightfully so.
During the Persian Gulf crisis, world leaders criticized Saddam Hussein for linking the Palestinian issue to his invasion of Kuwait. Similarly, this new "linkage" of Olympics to Utah's abortion law is flawed and unjustified. Thankfully, it's not likely to make much difference next month in Birmingham, England, when the IOC picks the host for the 1998 Winter Olympics.