State of the County 03

Utah County Commissioners, from front, Bill Lee, Tanner Ainge and Nathan Ivie recite the Pledge of Allegiance during the State of the County held Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019, at the Utah Valley Convention Center in Provo. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

The Utah County Commission unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday affirming its support for anti-abortion legislation at both the state and national levels.

Utah County Commissioner Bill Lee brought the resolution forward. While the resolution is not binding in any way, Lee said he felt it was important to bring it forward because the commissioners act as “thought leaders” in the community.

“If I had the ability to do something that had more of the force of law, I would,” Lee said.

The resolution declares that “all human life, regardless of age or circumstance, must be protected by the laws of society,” and, “We support legislation on the state and national levels that protects human life from its earliest stages, and we oppose lessening existing restrictions on abortion and euthanasia.”

The resolution goes on to state that the commission honors the rights of healthcare providers to object on moral grounds to performing abortions or euthanasia, supports the promotion of adoptions as an alternative to abortion, and supports efforts to educate and support parents in choosing “life-affirming” options.

“We recognize and support those who have to make the difficult decision as to whether to terminate a pregnancy in cases of rape, incest, or when the mother’s health is endangered,” the resolution says.

About 20 members of the public came to speak to the resolution, 18 in favor and two against.

Those who spoke in favor of the resolution included Utah State Rep. Kay Christofferson, R-Lehi, Gayle Ruzicka, director of the Utah Eagle Forum, and Merrilee Boyack, who chairs the Abortion Free Utah campaign that was publicly launched last week with the aim to eradicate elective abortions in Utah.

“By declaring our county a sanctuary for all human life including that of the unborn, we hope that you will help women avoid health risks that accompany abortion,” Boyack said.

One woman, who did not give her name, told the commission that she had an abortion about 20 years ago.

“I am very grateful that at no time was whether or not it was a legal procedure, whether or not it was a safe procedure, was brought up,” the woman told the commission. “... Please, vote for the rights of women to make the choice.”

Lee’s fellow Republican commissioners Tanner Ainge and Nathan Ivie both spoke in favor of the resolution before passing it unanimously.

Ainge spoke of going to the hospital with his wife, fearing she was miscarrying. Instead, the ultrasound showed one heartbeat, then a second.

“I’ve gotta say, there’s never been a moment of more deep motivation, where I came closer to the very purpose of existence than right then and there, and the motivation to do everything to protect and defend those little heartbeats that turned out to be my twin daughters,” Ainge said. “For me, I can’t ever imagine the desire to electively terminate a life.”

Ivie said he resonated with one of the women who had spoken during the public comment portion, whose mother had given birth to her and placed her for adoption rather than seeking an abortion. Ivie’s own mother, he said, is with us today because her biological mother had the courage to place her in an adoptive home.

“It’s very easy for me to support this,” Ivie said. “My whole life I’ve been someone who has valued life.”

Katie England covers local government, the environment and southern Utah County for the Daily Herald. She can be reached at 801-344-2599 or kengland@heraldextra.com.

Katie England covers politics, county government and southern Utah County for the Daily Herald. She can be reached at 801-344-2599 or kengland@heraldextra.com.

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