SALT LAKE CITY — Outspoken feminist Molly Yard spoke Saturday to a Utah convention of the National Organization for Women, chastising the conservative state for its restrictive new abortion law and blaming men for making the issue controversial. ``We're calling Utah the back-alley abortion state because that's what it is now,'' Ms. Yard, national president of NOW, told the conference. Abortion-rights activists charge that making abortion illegal will result in substandard ``back alley'' abortions.
Yard also told about 150 people attending the convention that abortion is a controversial issue in the United States because men want to control women's lives and women must not stand for it.
Utah's anti-abortion law was the subject of the day-long conference, and the Utah chapter brought in its big gun to help stir the state's abortion-rights movement.
In January, Utah Gov. Norm Bangerter signed into law what NOW claims is the most restrictive abortion law in the nation. It outlaws all elective abortion, allowing the procedure only in narrow instances where the mother's life is in danger, if the fetus would not survive the birth, or be born severely deformed, or in certain cases of rape or incest.
The American Civil Liberties Union sued the state earlier this month, and ACLU lawyers and state lawyers agreed the law would not be enforced until the issue of its constitutionality is settled in court.
The board of directors of the 250,000-member women's rights organization has agreed to urge a nationwide boycott of Utah.
The Utah Legislature meets in special session next Wednesday to amend criminal statutes regarding abortion law, under which a woman could be sentenced to death for having an illegal abortion.