This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
As Utah law now stands, abortion providers must inform a patient that a fetus may feel pain after 20 weeks of gestation and offer anesthesia before performing the procedure.
It's the woman's choice.
A new bill, sponsored by Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, would make it mandatory.
The Senate Business and Labor Committee will debate SB234 on Monday, with less than two weeks to go in this year's legislative session.
The bill says that the anesthesia is necessary because of the "substantial medial evidence from studies concluding that an unborn child who is at least 20 weeks gestational age is capable of experiencing pain during an abortion procedure."
A doctor can skip the anesthesia if he or she can get another doctor to agree, in writing, that administering the drug would kill the pregnant woman or cause irreversible damage to her body.
Bramble faces opposition from Planned Parenthood of Utah, which says the medical science is very much in doubt over fetal pain.
"This new bill as written right now takes the doctor's role out of it and takes the woman's decision out of it," said Karrie Galloway, the Planned Parenthood CEO in the state. "It is mandating the practice of medicine according to Curt Bramble and his friends. That isn't how to make policy and it is not good practice of medicine."
She said the bill "is not respectful to women."
Bramble is pushing this legislation after dropping legislation that would have banned all abortions once a fetus can feel pain, which would have faced a stiffer constitutional challenge.
"The judiciary has declared a woman has a right to an abortion," Bramble said in an interview Saturday. "That doesn't mean she has a right to inflict pain on that unborn child."
He said if not everyone agrees with the medical science, "Well, I would err on the side of compassion."
Bramble believes he has the time necessary to get this bill through the Legislature and into law.
But Galloway said she is "totally frustrated" with not just the proposal, but the way Bramble is proceeding. His bill was released late Friday and has its first hearing on Monday, in a committee he leads.
"Is he scared to have it out in the open?" she asked.
Galloway said according to the most recent numbers, which are from 2014, only 17 Utah women would have been covered by the new proposal.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit that supports abortion rights and tracks legislation, 12 states now ban abortions after roughly 20 weeks of gestation based on the fetal pain issue.
Montana's Legislature passed a bill similar to Bramble's in 2015, only to have the Democratic governor veto it.
The Supreme Court has rejected similar bans in the past, saying they violate a woman's constitutional right to end a pregnancy before a fetus can survive outside of the womb.
Most pregnancies take about 40 weeks and generally, doctors believe a fetus is considered viable around 24 weeks.