Utah abortion ban proposal gets early nod from Senate committee that includes Southern Utah lawmaker

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah would ban most abortions if the U.S. legal landscape changes under a proposal that has received an early nod of approval at the Legislature.

A panel of lawmakers on the Utah Senate Health and Human Services Committee gave a favorable recommendation Wednesday to Abortion Prohibition Amendments, designated as SB 174 in the 2020 Utah Legislature. The bill would make performing an abortion a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. It has exceptions for cases of rape, incest or serious threat to the health of the mother.

The committee vote was 4-2, with Southern Utah Sen. Evan Vickers among those voting to give the bill a favorable recommendation. It now moves to the Senate floor.

“My opinion, my sense, my belief is the fetus has as much right to life as the mother would have for her choice,” said Republican Sen. Scott Sandall, according to a report in the Salt Lake Tribune.

The legislation would come on top of a long list of restrictions Utah has already placed on abortion, said Marina Lowe, with the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah. This year, lawmakers also are considering requiring clinics to do an ultrasound before performing an abortion and to cremate or bury fetal remains.

The measure to ban most abortions contains a so-called “trigger clause,” which means it wouldn’t go into effect unless the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 case that legalized abortion. Several states have abortion bans that would kick in if the ruling is overturned.

If it goes into effect, SB 174 sponsor Sen. Dan McCay said women who wanted an abortion could still travel to other states like Colorado or Oregon.

Last year, Utah passed a ban on the procedure after 18 weeks of pregnancy, though it’s been blocked in court. It was one of several states emboldened by new conservatives on the Supreme Court to pass abortion restrictions.

St. George News contributed to this report.

For a complete list of contacts for Southern Utah representatives and senators, click here.

Check out all of St. George News’ coverage of the 2020 Utah Legislature here.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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