Utah Lawmakers Pass Parental Consent, Fetus Pain Bills

Pro-life advocates in Utah scored two major victories yesterday when House lawmakers voted resoundingly to pass two separate bills concerning abortion.

One bill, HB85, would requires girls younger than 18 to get parental consent before they can have an abortion. The other, HB222, would require doctors to inform women seeking abortions after 20 weeks gestation that their fetuses can feel pain.

HB85

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Rep. Kerry Gibson (R-Ogden), who sponsored the consent bill HB85, said the measure is only “somewhat about abortion.”

"We have to protect the lives of those babies. We also have to protect the lives of these youth. But we need to protect the rights of the parents," Gibson told the Tribune. "We're trying to bring the rights and the decision-making process back into the living room. Too many times, these decisions are being made outside of the home."

Current law requires doctors to notify a girl’s parents before ending her pregnancy, but the parents do not need to consent to the procedure.

Under Gibson’s bill, a doctor is required to get at least one parent’s permission 24 hours before the operation. The legislation also gives rooms for exceptions, such as when a girl fears abuse or is pregnant as a result of incest. In those instances, the girl would petition a judge, rather than her parents, for permissions. There are also exceptions for emergencies and in cases where the girl’s health is at risk because of the pregnancy.

The consent measure passed 65-8 and will now go to the Senate for debate.

HB222

In a separate vote, House members approved a bill that would require the Utah Department of Health to prepare a “truthful, non-misleading” brochure on fetal pain. Under the legislation, HB222, doctors would be required to show the brochure to women considering having an abortion 20 weeks or more into their pregnancy, and to provide anesthetic if they ask for it.

Rep. Carol Moss (D- Holladay), who made a failed attempt to cut a section of the fetal pain bill, argued that the legislation would be inaccurate because disagreements still exists about when fetuses feel pain.

"It isn't established science. Where would you go for the truth?" Moss asked, according to the Tribute. "How can we ask a state agency to provide information that they don't know is truthful?"

However, Rep. Paul Ray (R-Clearfield) countered the argument, saying such a government publication is necessary to keep doctors from breaking the law.

“There is plenty of information on both sides of the argument. I could write that part of the flier personally," he said.