LOCAL NEWS

Conferences pull out of Utah in protest of abortion and transgender sports bans

Jul 28, 2022, 3:06 PM | Updated: 10:37 pm

SALT LAKE CITY – One research organization is scrapping its plan to hold a conference in Salt Lake City later this year, citing a pair of “discriminatory” Utah laws banning most abortions and barring transgender girls from school sports.  

Another scientific group wasn’t planning to touch down in Utah until 2028, but that won’t happen because of Utah’s prohibition on abortion, according to Salt Lake tourism officials.  

The Boston-based Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research (PRIM&R) and the American Society of Human Genetics, headquartered in Maryland, are the first to make headlines for canceling their Utah gatherings following the moves by the state’s Republican-dominated state Legislature.   

PRIM&R is moving its yearly convention online instead of coming to Utah’s capital city in November, the organization’s executive director announced Tuesday.  Elisa A. Hurley called the Utah policies “discriminatory and antithetical” to the group’s values in a letter posted online.   

Hurley told KSL her concerns go beyond politics.  

“Our central concern is ethics, equity and justice in health and medicine,” Hurley said. “And from our perspective, abortion access and supporting transgender youth are squarely concerns within that.” 

The conference, which was to be the group’s first in Utah, was originally scheduled for Nov. 14-18 at the Salt Palace Convention Center in downtown Salt Lake City. It was expected to draw 2,400 attendees, said Karen Boe, vice president of communications and public relations for the tourism agency Visit Salt Lake.  

The American Society of Human Genetics was scheduled to bring in 7,300 visitors in October 2028, Boe said. The group did not return messages late Thursday, but Boe said it decided to cancel the event because of Utah’s prohibition on abortions.  

The average Salt Lake conference goer spends $971, according to surveys conducted by the University of Utah’s Kem. C. Gardner Policy Institute. By that estimate, the events together would have brought in $9.4 million in today’s money.  

State Senate President Stuart Adams suggested he’s not concerned about the loss in revenue. Utah’s economy is in good shape, and other organizations are still holding their events in Utah, Adams, R-Layton, said Thursday. 

“While I disagree with the tactics of boycotting, our economy remains strong, and we will continue to pass policies that are in the best interest of all Utahns,” Adams said in a statement.  

Utah’s trigger law banning most abortions went into effect after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned R Roe v. Wade in June, ending the federal constitutional right to an abortion. 

The state law makes exceptions including for rape, incest and “medical emergencies” that meet certain criteria. It’s on pause while a lawsuit plays out in court in Salt Lake City. 

A different Utah measure prohibiting transgender girls from competing in school sports took effect earlier this month; It’s also the subject of litigation.   

For PRIM&R, Utah wasn’t the only state to inform the change in plans.   

California’s ban on state-funded travel to Utah and other places with policies deemed anti-LGBT also factored into the group’s decision, because it “further erodes” the group’s ability to gather in Salt Lake City, according to Hurley.  

Before the new Utah laws took effect, COVID-19 dealt a blow to Salt Lake’s convention and tourism industries.  

The first year of the pandemic led to cancellations racking up $360 million in losses. In 2020, conferences and events that did take place brought in roughly 184,000 people and about $80.5 million in spending, according to Visit Salt Lake.    

Utah’s Office of Tourism hopes the research group will return to the state in the future, said spokeswoman Anna Loughridge.   

The agency is “dedicated to elevating the visitor and community experience in Utah through responsible tourism stewardship,” Loughridge said in a statement. “We remain committed to that goal and believe travel has the power to inform, inspire and unite.”   

But Hurley indicated it’s unlikely her group will book an event in Utah anytime soon. She said it’s important for conference goers to feel welcome wherever an event is held.  

“This has been an occasion for us to really reaffirm what our principles are for choosing conference locations,” Hurley said.    

 

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

...
Madison Swenson

Scene cleared after ‘suspicious package’ found at Layton Hospital

The Davis County bomb squad was called out to a Layton hospital Thursday morning after a suspicious package was found inside the building.
16 hours ago
(NASA Meteor Watch)...
Debbie Worthen

Meteorite hunters find what is believed to be pieces of meteorite boom

This group has found six rocks believed to be meteorites from Saturday's event.
16 hours ago
(KSL TV)...
Casey Scott, KSL TV

Lunch staff prepare for first day of school at Cache County schools

Casey Scott was back in the lunch room, checking things out at Mountain Crest High School where they say they could use a little help in the kitchen.
16 hours ago
In the last two elections women over 50 made up 30% of the overall voter turnout. (AARP)...
Ayanna Likens

Women voters over 50 are a crucial voting bloc in the upcoming election

A new survey from AARP revealed that women voters over 50 are a crucial part of the election turnout.
16 hours ago
Taylorsville police at the scene of the fatal shooting. (Taylorsville Police)...
Josh Ellis

Taylorsville police release identities of man, woman killed in possible murder-suicide

Police have identified the man and woman who were found dead with gunshot wounds Wednesday morning and say they are investigating the deaths as a murder-suicide.
16 hours ago
(West Valley City Police Department)...
Madison Swenson

Police seeking info, evidence related to 99-year-old woman’s homicide

Police are asking for those spending time around the Kamas area in the coming months to keep an eye out for evidence in a homicide case involving a 99-year-old woman. 
16 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

tips how to quit smoking...

7 Tips How to Quit Smoking | Quitting Smoking Might be One of the Hardest Things You Ever Do but Here’s Where You Can Start

Quitting smoking cigarettes can be incredibly difficult. Here are 7 tips how to quit smoking to help you on your quitting journey.
Photo: Storyblocks...
Blue Stakes of Utah 811

Blue Stakes of Utah 811: 5 Reasons To Call 811 Before You Dig When Working in Your Yard

Call before you dig. Even at home, you could end up with serious injuries or broken utilities just because you didn't call Blue Stakes of Utah 811.
Days of...
Days of '47 Rodeo

TRIVIA: How well do you know your rodeo? Take this quiz before you go to the Days of ’47!

The Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo presented by Zions Bank is a one-of-a-kind Gold Medal Rodeo being held July 20-23, 25 at 7:30 PM. The Days of ’47 Rodeo How well do you know your rodeo trivia? Take the quiz to test your know-all before heading out to the Days of ’47 Rodeo at the […]
cyber security through multi factor authentication setup...
Les Olson IT

How multi factor authentication setup helps companies stay safe

Multi factor authentication (MFA) setup is an important security measure that every company should implement for their workers. It’s also wise to install it for your personal and home accounts.
...
Lighting Design

Check out these stunning lamps with stained glass shades

Lamps with stained glass shades are statement pieces that are more than simply aesthetic. They also meet a functional requirement: to light up a room.
Address Bar of internet browser shows internet access...
AARP Utah

Utah voters 50+ support increased access to Internet

The AARP surveyed Utah voters aged 50 plus about internet access and if they support the expansion of broadband, especially in rural areas currently lacking it.
Conferences pull out of Utah in protest of abortion and transgender sports bans