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After harsh debate, House passes abortion-information bill

First Published      Last Updated Feb 24 2017 11:13 pm


Minority leader says he is frustrated by lawmakers meddling in a complicated medical procedure.

After sometimes-bitter debate about abortion in general, the House voted Friday to mandate that women who seek a medically induced abortion first be told that it sometimes can be reversed partway through the procedure.

Critics and supporters clashed about whether such information is supported by sound science.

Still, the House voted 56-13 to approve HB141 and sent it to the Senate. All those voting against it were Democrats, except for Rep. Scott Chew, R-Jensen.

Rep. Keven Stratton, R-Orem, the bill's sponsor, said two rounds of drugs are used in a medically induced abortion, and research shows that 15 percent to 50 percent of fetuses are still viable after just the first pill — and might be carried to full term if a woman changes her mind.




His bill requires that women be given such information before the procedure.

But House Minority Leader Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, said the mandated information "is something that is simply not well established in science," adding that it is based on an experiment with "a handful of patients, literally. ... It's simply not sound science."

Stratton and allies disagreed. Rep. Ray Ward, R-Bountiful, a physician, said medical groups believe the information "is medically accurate. Not only is it accurate, it is reasonable and important information for a woman to have as she finds herself in this type of a situation."

The Utah Medical Association opposes the legislation, said spokesman Mark Fotheringham.

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has issued a fact sheet that confirms that pregnancy will continue in 30 percent to 50 percent of cases where a woman takes only the first medication.

It has recommended that "in the rare situation where a woman takes mifepristone and then changes her mind, doing nothing and waiting to see what happens is just as effective as any" course of intervention in continuing the pregnancy, and without the potential side effects.

Medically induced abortions comprise just 16.5 percent of U.S. abortions, according to a 2014 bulletin of the physicians' group.

King complained that legislators every year find additional ways to "interject ourselves between a woman and a doctor about the decision that she makes and has made to proceed with an abortion, which is perfectly legal."

Last year, Utah lawmakers required physicians to provide anesthesia to any woman seeking an abortion after 20 weeks to "eliminate or alleviate organic pain to the unborn child" — a highly disputed claim. Some of the handful of doctors who perform abortions in the state recently told The Associated Press that they are not complying with the law because they can get no guidance from the state on how to do so safely.

King said Republicans often fight federal micromanagement or "nanny state-ism," but he said, "Why is it so difficult to live that way on this issue of abortion?"

Agreeing was Rep. Susan Duckworth, D-Magna, who added, "I am opposing the fact that men continually make these presentations and these arguments about what should be done to a woman's body." Men outnumber women in the House by a 61-14 margin.

But Rep. Karianne Lisonbee, R-Clearfield, rose as a woman to defend what she said is simply "an informed-consent bill. It requires physicians to provide scientifically factual information to their patients."

King also started a minor brouhaha when he said he is tired of some lawmakers who contend that abortion is "killing babies."

He said, "What we are talking about are zygotes and fetuses and embryos. …. When I hear an individual refer to an unborn child as a baby, I know immediately they are not to be taken seriously."

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