The most emotional issue of the 1991 Legislature - abortion - may be settled next week because of compromises reached Friday between anti-abortion activists and Gov. Norm Bangerter.
Monday night, in his State of the State address, Bangerter threatened to veto any abortion bill he believes unconstitutional. He doesn't want a long, costly federal court battle.Senate President Arnold Christensen, R-Sandy, said Friday a tentative compromise has been reached.
Christensen said the compromise incorporates "health of the mother" as a legal justification for abortion, and does away with the requirement that a rape victim must report the crime to police within five days.
In addition, he said a two-tier system is established so that if the more-restrictive requirements are ruled unconstitutional, a broader section will remain.
"We think this ought to be a compromise that both sides can live with, although the governor has not signed off yet," Christensen said.
A legislative Abortion Task Force studied the controversial issue last year. It recommended a tough anti-abortion bill that few legal scholars believe will stand up in the U.S. Supreme Court. That bill, sponsored by Sen. LeRay McAllister, R-Provo, and Rep. Evan Olsen, R-Young Ward, would outlaw abortions except in cases of rape reported within five days of the attack, or incest reported before the abortion, or to save the life of the mother, or if the fetus were so deformed it could not survive birth.
Officials say the bill would outlaw most of the 4,300 abortions performed in Utah each year.
Bangerter believes that bill would be struck down immediately in the federal court, "not saving one unborn child," and would result in a multimillion-dollar legal bill for the state.
Assuming all legislative factions agree to the compromise, Christensen said there will be a special joint Senate and House Health Committee meeting Monday morning, starting at 8 a.m. in Room 403 of the Capitol, at which citizens may testify. The Senate and House will delay floor action for an hour to allow the committee to run until 11 a.m.