Rep. Karianne Lisonbee (R), the assistant majority whip in the Utah House of Representatives, has been busy this cycle. The homemaker representing the Salt Lake City suburbs is using this legislative session to advance ultra conservative stances on abortion and guns that appear to be deeply in conflict with each other and the “pro-life” message writ large.
Republicans no longer need to slowly eradicate abortion through six-week or even 15-week gestation bans; Lisonbee has proposed a new way forward: On Tuesday night, she filed a bill to ban abortion clinics from the state by 2024. The bill will outlaw abortion clinics in Utah on Jan. 1, 2024 and stop licensing them in the state before that, as of May 2, 2023. It’s unclear if anyone is trying to even open a new clinic in Utah at this time, but this way she covers all her bases.
Lisonbee’s bill includes an exception for girls under 12 who were raped (the only way a 12-year-old can become pregnant, despite the bill text calling the child “the pregnant woman under the age of 12"). The proposed bill limits rape and incest exceptions for pregnancies under 18 weeks.
Meanwhile, the same lawmaker has also sponsored multiple pieces of legislation that aim to relax gun regulations in Utah. One piece of legislation seeks to ban state employees, including police, from cooperating with or expending any state resources to enforce federal gun regulations—at a time when there have been more mass shootings than days in the calendar year so far in 2023. Just yesterday, a woman who survived the Michigan State University mass shooting said she’d also survived Sandy Hook a decade ago.
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This proposed legislation was introduced during truly bonkers legislative maneuvering in Utah, as Republicans throwing their most conservative takes at the wall and seeing what sticks. The proposed back-door abortion ban—lawmakers don’t have to ban abortion outright if there’s nowhere to actually get one in your state—is the culmination of years of so-called TRAP laws (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) trying to regulate clinics out of existence. Utah appears to be ahead of the curve, succeeding at finding novel ways to eradicate legal abortion from its borders.
It seems difficult—impossible, even—to brand yourself the party of “life” via abortion laws and “freedom” via gun rights laws when each of those contradicts the values of the other. Jezebel has reached out to Lisonbee for comment, and we’ll let you know if she or anyone in the party is ever able to explain this conundrum.