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Utah GOP delegate still hopes for abortion, family values platform tweaks

By Tim Vandenack - | Apr 27, 2022

Harrison Epstein, Daily Herald

Delegates wait for the start of the state Republican convention at the Mountain American Convention Center in Sandy on Saturday, April 23, 2022.

MARRIOTT-SLATERVILLE — Bob McEntee’s proposals to amend the Utah Republican Party platform on abortion and family values may have fallen through the cracks at Saturday’s GOP convention.

But the GOP state delegate from Marriott-Slaterville hasn’t given up on them. He says he’ll pursue them at a future convention.

“The design of the agenda is what got us,” he said this week. That is, that his proposals were at the end of Saturday’s convention — after delegates weighed in on the GOP U.S. Senate and U.S. House hopefuls and after many participants had left — meant there weren’t enough delegates, a quorum, still around to vote on them.

One of his proposed amendments had called for eliminating platform language referencing exceptions to opposition to abortion in cases of incest and rape or when the life of the mother is in danger and adding language focusing on adoption. His aim, he said, was to bolster adoption as an alternative to abortion within the framework of the party platform.

Per his proposal, a key platform sentence reading, “We strongly oppose abortion, except to preserve the life of the mother or in cases of rape or incest,” would have been changed to read, “We strongly oppose abortion and encourage adoption.”

Some apparently wondered whether McEntee’s proposed change meant the party would endorse no circumstances when abortion might be acceptable. He said that wasn’t case.

That rape, incest and instances when the mother’s life is in danger were regarded as exceptions, in his mind, was implied. “We took it for granted, but some people didn’t take it that way,” McEntee said. He wanted to “be silent” in the platform on the issue of exceptions and leave it to individual party members “and their faith” to make the call.

A second proposal McEntee put forward in the family values section of the GOP platform called for adding language affirming the rights of parents with regard to the care and upbringing of their kids.

That provision, McEntee said, stemmed in part from apparent instances in California of minors getting abortions or prescriptions for abortion pills without the consent or knowledge of their parents. He also cited apparent instances, also in California, of minors getting the COVID-19 vaccine without their parents knowing.

Parents “must receive full disclosure and give written permission before any healthcare services, outside referrals, sexual, race or gender education content or materials are distributed to their children,” McEntee’s proposed amendment reads, in part. It goes on: “No person should be forced, coerced or cajoled to undergo any healthcare service including vaccinations or experimental medical procedures.”

McEntee said he didn’t hear any opposition to bolstering language encouraging adoption, spelled out in GOP platforms of some other states. Still, he suspects some delegates were leery of addressing the issue since it relates to the controversial topic of abortion, not wanting a “divisive” public debate.

He also didn’t hear much opposition to his family values proposal, just “nitpicking” on particulars of the language.

Even so, he wonders if his proposals were purposefully placed near the end of Saturday’s meeting agenda — after the main action items, when some delegates typically start leaving — to avoid debate on them. “It sure seems like it from my angle,” he said.

Lacking a quorum of delegates when the agenda rolled around to McEntee’s proposals, the measures weren’t discussed last Saturday.

The 2022 convention is the third such gathering in a row, including the 2020 and 2018 meetings, that didn’t include proposed changes to GOP policy positions, he said. McEntee aims to bring up his proposals again, though he’s not sure exactly when.

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