House Bill 136 has now passed its final hurdle of the Utah legislature. If signed, the bill will restrict abortions to the first 18 weeks of pregnancy.
At the beginning of the legislative session, Rep. Cheryl Acton was not impressively well-informed on the bill she was sponsoring, having been sought out by Eagle Forum and Pro-Life Utah, arguably identified as a potentially successful sponsor for her relative newness to the Legislature and therefore lack of concern regarding the risks involved with the bill.
During KUER 90.1 RadioWest’s Jan. 22 program, you will hear Acton speak to her interest in HB 136. At the time of the interview, Acton states that she has “never been involved in it at all,” referring to abortion legislation or activism. Yet, in a news conference the next day on Jan. 23, Acton stated, “It’s one thing to be told no by the courts, and it’s an entirely other thing to tell ourselves no because we lack the will to fight injustice. We should be leading out on this issue. We should be at the front demanding safety for women and protections for the unborn.”
That’s quite a shift for someone who stated the previous day that she had “never been involved in it at all” before being pursued by Eagle Forum and Pro-Life Utah. It seems clear that her interest is motivated by the newly weighted conservative nature of the United States Supreme Court.
Acton’s tactics are age-old favorites of the average patriarchal oppressor. Couch the argument in a manipulative deception that it benefits individuals who have uteri. In this case, Acton expresses that the driving motivation for her to sponsor this bill was to spare a woman from the trauma and emotional pain of a late-term pregnancy termination.
“We continue to pretend abortion is a harmless, victimless procedure that empowers and liberates women,” Acton stated to Utah’s Fox13Now. “Women are in fact often its victims along with, of course, the unborn children.”
If Acton’s interests truly were with the mental well-being of a person seeking an abortion, she would not only be not sponsoring this bill, but she would be seeking to reform policies that cause immense trauma and harm to a person who needs an abortion, such as the mandatory informed consent session whose purpose is to evoke shame, or the 72-hour waiting period that follows it.
Acton’s aims seem clear. To attack and dismantle safe and legal access to abortions, a constitutional right. The appeal for Acton’s support of this bill seems to reside in the possibility of having her name on a piece of legislation responsible for challenging Roe v. Wade at the Supreme Court level.
So truly, who benefits from HB136? Who hides within this Trojan Horse? Oppressors certainly, Acton included, for whom recognition is certainly a stake in the game.
Acton has three tools to achieve her goal. Her willingness to sponsor such a reckless bill, almost certain to be blocked by federal courts, and her gender identity and expression, and her most invaluable tool, the backing and unlimited resources of the Utah’s ever thriving conservative patriarchy and the supreme court, who year-by-year more clearly reflects it.
Should this bill go on to assist in paving the way to overturning Roe v. Wade, Acton will have been the Trojan horse of Trump’s anti-choice America.