Second congressional District GOP candidate Dan Marriott was endorsed by the local chapter of Right To Life Of Utah this week in a letter his Republican opponent, Genevieve Atwood, says is unethical and distorts her "strong, aminstream Republican anti-abortion stand."
She lays the blame for the harsh criticism by the pro-life group squarely at Marriott's feet. The Right To Life letter, mailed to 2nd District GOP delegates to this weekend's state Republican convention where Marriott will try to eliminate Atwood from the campaign, has written at the bottom of the second page: "Authorized by the candidate" -- candidate meaning Marriott.But Marriott campaign manager, Lillian Garrett says Marriott didn't "authorize" the letter at all. "We only agreed to help (Right To Life) compile Dan's abortion voting record while he was in Congress, and that's public information anyway. He didn't know anything about what the letter would say.
"We've not tried to make abortion an issue in this campaign. We don't think it is an issue. Dan hasn't talked about abortion at all in his meetings with the delegates. You must understand, this (letter) is not from our campaign," Garret said.
Atwood says that's bunk.
"We've been hearing for several weeks that paid people in Marriott's campaign were saying we'd be attacked on abortion. Here it is, specifically timed just before the convention so we won't have an adequate time to respond to these clear and deliberate distortions. Federal Election Commission rules require that when a candidate is responsible, contributes to a mailing, it must say on the mailing 'authorized by the candidate.' This letter does and Marriott is responsible."
"This (letter) is unethical, mean-spirited and contrary to what Utahns consider fair play in elections," said Atwood. "Dan Marriott is scared, scared he won't 70-percent me in (Saturday's) convention. The momentum has turned in my favor and he's desperate."
The letter, under the signature of Rosa Goodnight, local Right To Life chapter president, lists six votes by Atwood on abortion-related bills considered by the Utah House--where she represented the Avenues area of Salt Lake City--from 1977 through 1979. Atwood says her votes on those bills are correct, but the summary of the bills in the Right To Life letter contains "great distortions."
For example, Atwood voted against HB217 in 1979. The letter says in that vote "she even opposed parental consent before a minor daughter can undergo an abortion." Atwood says she tried to amend HB217, and many other abortion bills, to include the abortion prohibition exceptions she's always advocated--life or health of the mother, fetal deformity, rape or incest. But she failed to get the amendments approved. "The bill did many other things. It would have required that a married woman have extensive counseling (before she could get an abortion), many restrictions way beyond the traditional, accepted anti-abortion stands of Republicans. Thst's why it failed in a Republican Legislature."
"My record on abortion is clear. I want abortion limited to life of the mother, fetal deformity and rape or incest. I've always opposed mandatory federal financing of abortions," Atwood said.
The Right To Life letter also says: "Genevieve Atwood's record on abortion in the State Legislature has been solidly pro-abortion." The letter endorses Marriott's candidacy, saying while in Congress from 1976-84 he voted 32 out of 32 times with pro-life advocates.
Atwood said Wednesday evening she sent her own letter to delegates, warning them not to take such attacks seriously. "There may be two or more letters going to delegates containing untruths about me. Be prepared for more lies."