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Utah Senate gives preliminary OK to abortion waiting bill

Published: Wednesday, March 7 2012 9:08 p.m. MST

Utah State Capitol Building in Salt Lake City, Utah, Monday, Oct. 25, 2010. (Ravell Call, Deseret News, KSL-TV Chopper 5)

Ravell Call, Deseret News, KSL-TV Chopper 5

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SALT LAKE CITY — A bill to extend to 72 hours the waiting period for women seeking abortions in Utah received preliminary approval in the Utah Senate Wednesday afternoon, no debate or discussion.

The bill moved to the Senate's final passage calendar on a vote of 22-6.

HB461, sponsored by Rep. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy, would triple the current waiting period, which is 24 hours. Utah would have one of the nation's longest waiting periods between the initial consultation and the procedure. However, the bill was amended to allow the initial consultation to occur anywhere in the state.

Karrie Galloway, president and chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood of Utah, said she was "disappointed" by the actions of the Utah Legislature.

"There was no need for this bill and they did it anyway. I wish they could trust women. Women don’t need the Legislature to make a decision for them," she said.

The bill will likely be considered for final passage on Thursday, the final day of the legislative session.

Asked if Planned Parenthood would consider a legal challenge if the bill passes, Galloway said, "We'll have to see."

A 72-hour waiting period passed by South Dakota lawmakers was enjoined by a federal court "but that didn't stop them," Galloway said of the Utah Legislature.

The bill's Senate sponsor, Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, said if he could, he would sponsor legislation to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that established a woman's right to abortion without undue interference from the government. The Supreme Court has allowed some limitations but the 1973 ruling remains largely intact.

While there was no debate, two Salt Lake Democrats expressed their objections during the roll call vote.

Sen. Gene Davis said women have a right to health care, a right to control their own bodies and a right to choice.

"I don’t believe trying to frustrate an individual from making that choice is appropriate for the state to be involved in and I vote no," Davis said.

Sen. Ross Romero said the state already has a 24-hour waiting period. "I'm sure this is a very difficult decision made with reflection and consultation with family, religious leaders and others." Extending the waiting period likely would not change their decisions, he said.

Romero said he does not believe government should interfere the matter.

"We already have a law on the books that is more than adequate."

E-mail: marjorie@desnews.com

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