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Utah lawmaker wants to ban abortions based on gender, race

Published: Friday, Nov. 30 2012 7:15 p.m. MST

The Utah State Capitol on Friday, Jan. 27, 2012.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

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SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah lawmaker wants the state to prevent women from getting abortions based on the gender or race of the baby.

But a group opposed to Sen. Margaret Dayton's proposal calls it a solution in search of a problem.

Dayton, an Orem Republican, is drafting a bill titled "Gender Selection Abortion Prohibition," which would keep a woman from having an abortion based on whether she wants a boy or a girl. Dayton is considering applying the prohibition to race as well.

"It's still in the formative stages as I gather information," she said.

Planned Parenthood of Utah Executive Director Karrie Galloway said there's no need for the restrictions that the legislation would bring.

"I personally am not aware of any suspected abuse in that arena," she said. "Therefore, I see it as a solution looking for a problem."

Galloway said the race issues would concern her more than the gender issues because "they speak to creating problems."

"I guess we'll have to wait and see what (Dayton) has in mind," she said. "I would suspect that the only reason one would be looking at this type of legislation is to do abortion legislation, not to solve a problem."

Several states have introduced measures this year to prohibit sex-selective abortions, and three states — Arizona, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania — already ban the procedure. A similar law in Illinois was scrapped in the courts.

In May, the U.S. House of Representatives rejected a measure to impose fines and prison terms on doctors who perform abortions on women who are trying to select the gender of their children. Utah's three House members, Republican Reps. Jason Chaffetz and Rob Bishop, and Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson, voted in favor of the bill.

Federal lawmakers who opposed the bill said although they don't support sex-selective abortion, it is not a problem in the United States.

The selective abortion of female fetuses is most common in areas where cultural norms value male children over female children, especially in parts of China, India and Pakistan.

Earlier this year, the Utah Legislature established the longest abortion waiting period in the country, extending the time period from 24 hours to 72 hours.

Proponents of the law said is neither pro-life nor pro-choice but rather pro-consumer, likening it to the waiting period for buying a gun or refinancing a mortgage. Planned Parenthood called it an onerous measure that says state legislators don't trust that a woman knows how to make a decision.

E-mail: romboy@desnews.com, Twitter: dennisromboy

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