“Conservative legislators are backing away from costly plans to take on Roe v. Wade this year — given Utah’s tight budget — but they want to start stockpiling donations for a future court fight against abortion,” reports the Salt Lake Tribune.
“We are looking at wanting to ban abortion in Utah, period, end of story. However, we want to do it correctly,” said Rep. Carl Wimmer, R-Herriman. “We’re not going to back away from abortion. We’re never going to let it die.”
Three legislators are working on a bill that would ban abortions except in the case of rape, incest or permanent danger to a woman’s health. But they know it will cost $2 million to $7 million to defend the ban in court, so their immediate focus is on proposing legislation to create a legal defense fund for a future court battle.
Missy Bird, executive director of the Planned Parenthood Action Committee, offers a common-sense alternative:
“The people would really be hard pressed to endorse a public fund that we can put millions of dollars into when the people of Utah have better priorities,” she said.
She wishes the Legislature instead would focus discussions on matters such as proposed cuts in Medicaid to pregnant women, the end of the Baby Your Baby program and eliminating the Medicaid cancer program, which helps low-income women pay their medical bills to fight breast and ovarian cancer.
“Wouldn’t it be incredible,” Bird said, “if this state set up public funds to do those things instead of set up public funds to defend abortion laws?”
In 1991, Utah passed a more restrictive abortion law but the measure was later overturned. Utah currently allows abortion up to 21 weeks from the last menstrual period. After the 20th week, abortions are performed in cases of fetal demise or severe abnormalities.
There are of course other restrictions, as Planned Parenthood Association of Utah explains. Parental consent is required for women age 17 and younger. And “Informed consent counseling” with a medical provider is required at least 24 hours prior to the abortion. During this counseling session, a video and booklet on fetal development, abortion and alternatives to abortion is made available.