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Utah to collect, keep demographic information on abortions

Published: Tuesday, March 12 2013 4:30 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Abortion statistics will be part of the state record, according to a bill passed by the Utah House of Representatives on Tuesday.

It was the final hurdle for the somewhat controversial legislative action, prior to going to the governor for approval.

Federal law already requires various statistics, including a woman's age, race and the gestation period when the abortion occurs to be collected via an anonymous form that is completed at a doctor's office when an abortion occurs. The form also inquires why a woman is seeking an abortion.

The information that is collected is dispersed nationally through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but SB60 makes it available indefinitely within the state as well.

The bill, which was crafted out of a concern that the federal government may change its policies on the matter, aims to secure the data locally for future use. Such data might give policymakers and outreach groups within the state an idea of where and how additional educational initiatives might benefit women who find themselves in need of an abortion, said the bill's co-sponsor, Rep. Keith Grover, R-Provo.

Grover said there were 3,081 abortions performed in Utah in 2011, according to CDC data.

Rep. Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, said individuals would be outraged if such questions were asked of anyone looking to purchase a gun; however, information is gathered by the state and federal government officials on firearms purchases.

"Why are we so much less sensitive about the most personal and private decisions that our daughters, our sisters, our wives and us, as male lawmakers, have to report?" he  asked, calling the bill "unconservative."

King said his response to anyone asking questions about an abortion would be, "None of your business."

The difference, said Rep. Ken Ivory, R-West Jordan, is that the Constitution allows for rights to defend one's life and liberty, but not the right to terminate a life.

Grover said the bill was not intended to be controversial and does not attempt to regulate abortions, but will utilize data that is already collected to lead to more effective education efforts and information dispersal within the state.

The bill will return to the Senate for further consideration and then be sent to the governor for approval.

E-mail: wleonard@deseretnews.com

Twitter: wendyleonards

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