Utah GOP Rep. Karianne Lisonbee Says Women Can Control 'Intake of Semen'

A Republican lawmaker in the state of Utah has said she trusts women to control the "intake of semen" in response to criticism following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to overturn two landmark abortion rights rulings.

State Representative Karianne Lisonbee made the remarks on Friday as state legislators celebrated the Court's majority opinion that reversed its holdings in 1973's Roe v. Wade and 1992's Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

"I got a text message today saying I should seek to control men's ejaculations and not women's pregnancies," Lisonbee told reporters during a news conference, adding that the message suggested: "that I clearly don't trust women enough to make choices to control their own body."

"And my response is I do trust women enough to control when they allow a man to ejaculate inside of them and to control that intake of semen," she said.

Lisbonee also acknowledged that "that may be inflammatory." Her remarks come as Utah effectively bans almost all abortions.

Representative Lisbonee issued a statement to Newsweek on Saturday morning.

"What I said in the press conference yesterday when referring to the message I received and my response to it did not reflect what I intended to express or the full content of my written reply which included the statement that women do not have a choice when they are raped, and have protections under Utah's trigger law," Lisbonee said.

"My first statement in the press conference made clear the actions I have taken to pass bills that provide legal protection and recourse to victims of sexual assault," she said.

"The political and social divide in America seems to be expanding at an ever faster pace. I am committed to ongoing respectful and civil engagement. I can always do better and will continue to try," Lisbonee said.

Utah has a so-called trigger law that came into effect on Friday after the state's legislative general counsel formally certified to lawmakers that Roe had been overturned. The 2020 law was co-sponsored by Representative Lisonbee and will make abortion illegal in the state with some specific exceptions.

The trigger law provides limited exceptions in cases where an abortion "is necessary to avert the death" of the pregnant woman or there is "a serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function."

The law also contains an exception for rape or incest but the physician performing the abortion will have to verify that the rape or incest has been reported to the police or other authorities before carrying out the procedure.

An abortion is also permissible under Utah law if two physicians who practice "maternal fetal medicine" agree that "the fetus has a defect that is uniformly diagnosable and uniformly lethal" or "has a severe brain abnormality that is uniformly diagnosable."

The legislation specifically excludes Down syndrome, spina bifida, cerebral palsy or any condition "that does not cause an individual to live in a mentally vegetative state" as grounds for an abortion.

Lisonbee welcomed the Supreme Court's decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization in remarks to Salt Lake City's Fox 13 on Friday.

"It is wonderful news, and we are so grateful the Supreme Court has taken up the Dobbs case and decided in the way they have," she said.

The Republican said that Utah would not move to prevent women from traveling to other states in order to receive abortion services.

"Certainly a woman is free to travel from state to state," Lisonbee said. "I don't know of any Utah law in the past that has sought to punish a woman who has sought an abortion. We have always focused our laws on punishing those who perform the abortions."

President Joe Biden on Friday stressed the importance of women being able to travel to other states in the wake of the Court's decision.

"If any state or local official, high or low, tries to interfere with a woman's exercising her basic right to travel, I will do everything in my power to fight that deeply un-American attack," the president said.

Update 06/25/22 08.35a.m. E.T.: This article was updated to include a statement from Karianne Lisbonee.

Composite Image Shows Karianne Lisonbee and Protest
A composite image shows an abortion rights protest and Utah state Representative Karianne Lisonbee. Lisonbee has said she trusts women to control their "intake of semen." Getty Images/Wikipedia