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A bill seeking to turn cock fighting into a felony took a detour during floor comments in the Utah Senate Monday when a Republican expressed dismay that the Legislature was looking to elevate the penalty for rooster fighting while abortion remained legal.

Sen. Allen Christensen, R-North Ogden, made the remarks as the Senate moved a step closer to passing SB52 sponsored by Sen. Gene Davis, D-Salt Lake City.

It passed 17-11 — but not before Christensen asked to explain his reason for opposing the measure.

"In a state where we can still allow people to kill their babies, we want to make it a felony to let chickens fight — the purpose for which they were raised," Christensen said. "It's not beautiful, it's not wonderful or any such thing."

Cockfighting is currently a misdemeanor in Utah and Davis wanted to raise the crime to a felony because neighboring states had it at that level and he feared Utah was becoming an attractive destination for rooster fighting.

But Christensen was unswayed, drawing the parallel to rooster fighting and abortion — even though abortion is legal in all 50 states.

"Do we really want to make it a felony and go to prison [because] two chickens were bred — which naturally want to do this thing in their lives — and we're going to send their owners to prison for this? He said. "Yet we allow people to go ahead and murder their unborn babies? I vote no."

There was little debate on the floor. It needs one more vote on the Senate floor to advance.

Twitter: @davemontero