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A bill to require fetal anesthesia after 20 weeks gestation is one step closer to becoming law.

The House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee approved the measure 7-4. It already has passed the Senate and now moves to the full House.

Current law allows anesthesia after 20 weeks if the mother chooses, but SB234 requires it. Sponsoring Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, said bill opponents can't say for sure that a fetus doesn't feel pain ­— and if there's a slight chance it does, he believes it's the moral thing to prevent it.

Three OB-GYNs spoke against the bill, including Sean Esplin who told lawmakers the prescribed procedure could be unsafe for the woman because many abortions performed at this stage are done by inducing labor.

"You're mandating risk to mothers based on inconclusive evidence," Esplin warned.

Gov. Gary Herbert seems likely to sign the bill if it passes the Legislature, telling reporters, "We ought to err on the side of life and [being] pain-free." While the Legislature moved Bramble's bill toward a final vote, lawmakers made quick work of a measure by Rep. Curt Oda, R-Clearfield, to ban most abortions in Utah. HB442 was removed from a committee agenda without debate amid warnings from legislative attorneys that it would likely not survive a legal challenge.