A Utah lawmaker and her sister at odds: Should rape victims need to contact police before getting an abortion?
Feb 3, 2023, 2:27 PM | Updated: 3:09 pm
(Kristin Murphy/Deseret News)
SALT LAKE CITY — Both sisters had tears in their eyes.
Rep. Kera Birkeland, R-Morgan, sat in her office at the Utah Capitol in Salt Lake City.
On the other side of the Salt Lake Valley, her younger sister by 10 years, Samantha Hansen, sat in the kitchen of her Herriman home.
Some 40 miles separated the two while they spoke individually to the Deseret News on Thursday — but their vast differences over an issue that hits far too close to home for their family is immeasurable.
The issue? Abortion access and services for rape victims in Utah — an issue that’s slated to heat up in coming days and weeks on Utah’s Capitol Hill as a bill proposed by Birkeland, along with a slate of other abortion-related bills, make their way through the Utah Legislature.
Birkeland insists her bill is more about expanding services to rape victims and holding rapists accountable than it is about restricting abortion.
“It doesn’t force women to do anything,” Birkeland said. “It provides resources to women, and it really does seek to hold the perpetrators accountable.”
But her sister — who has for years publicly shared her sexual assault story of how she was drugged and raped in 2014 — disagrees.
“It is absolutely cruel to rape survivors,” Hansen, 30, said. “It is not going to accomplish what my sister claims she wants it to accomplish.”