MAGNA — Two top-of-mind issues for Rep. Chris Stewart riled up one of his constituents attending a midday town hall meeting at a Magna eatery Thursday.
About 20 people gathered at Nonna's Pizzeria to hear — and in at least one case confront — the four-term Republican who started the discussion with his views on the hot-button topics of abortion and socialism.
The town hall in Magna was the ninth of 11 meetings Stewart held throughout the 2nd Congressional District over three days ending Thursday night in Farmington.
Stewart expressed support for legislation that would mandate medical care for any infant born alive after an attempted abortion procedure. He said he couldn't imagine anyone voting against it should the bill make it to the House floor.
"I think most Americans are shocked by the idea that you wouldn't give life-sustaining medical treatment to a child that is laying on a table," he said.
That's where West Valley resident Amanda Martinez jumped into the discussion, questioning how often doctors perform late-term abortions other than when the mother's life is in danger.
"It needs be allowed for the women that needs it and that should be the decision of her, her family and her doctor," she said. "If that's my child, I should have the choice to not watch that child suffer."
Stewart said he was surprised at Martinez's position. He asked her if she would support a bill that requires medical care for a child born alive in a botched abortion.
"It depends on the situation," Martinez said.
"I can't believe it's a depends on the situation," Stewart replied. "If the child is alive, the situation is you'd save that child's life. How in the world could it be anything other than that?"
After a prolonged back-and-forth between between the two, Stewart and Martinez said there is nothing the other one could say to persuade them to think differently.
Stewart supporter Lynda Cox said after the meeting it's "unconscionable to not provide medical care for a human being that is living and breathing outside the womb."
Cox, of North Salt Lake, said Martinez didn't seem to know that several people have survived botched abortions and are now speaking about it as adults.
Unruffled by the abortion debate with Martinez, Stewart moved on to his views on socialism. Last week, he announced the formation of the Anti-Socialism Caucus to combat what he sees as a growing socialist movement in the country.
"If you support the Green New Deal, you are proposing an absolute socialist society where the government would have control over our transportation, our health care, the home that you live in, how you get to work and any number of other things," the congressman said.
The Green New Deal is a Democratic proposal for the federal government to wean the United States from fossil fuels and curb greenhouse gas emissions across the economy. It also aims to guarantee new high-paying jobs in clean energy industries. The resolution is nonbinding and would not become law even if Congress approves it.
Martinez, who attended the meeting with her neighbor Thomas Vigil, jumped on that issue as well, arguing with Stewart over costs in a government-run health care system.
"I think that you're completely wrong. I think you're using a lot of propaganda," she told Stewart.
Others, most of whom agreed with Stewart, tried to shut down Martinez, asking her not to "hijack" the conversation and saying she was "unteachable."
Outside the restaurant, Martinez said Stewart doesn't understand that "social democracy" encompasses socialism and capitalism, and "it's a wonderful way to live … and the fact that he calls it socialism and tried to demonize it is wrong, it's a farce. He doesn't want do anything but take the word and make it scary."38 comments on this story
Tattoo artist A. W. Storm Anderson, who owns Art on You Studio next door to the pizza restaurant, thanked Stewart for his stance on socialism. Anderson said some might perceive that because he's an artist, he would lean toward that idea.
He said he recognizes that if he wants to sell his art, he needs to be a capitalist.
Government could use some reforms, Anderson, said "but the answer is not socialism at all. We need capitalism. That's part of what makes this such a neat country, that's part of what allows business owners like myself to grow and flourish in this country and achieve what people still call the American dream."