SALT LAKE CITY — A bill banning abortions solely based on a Down syndrome diagnosis passed the Senate without debate Thursday and now goes to Gov. Gary Herbert for his action.
The governor, at his monthly KUED news conference Thursday, said he will weigh the pros and cons of HB166 like any other bill that comes to his desk and then make a decision.
"This is somewhat of a message bill from the standpoint that we are saying if that is the reason that you want an abortion, that is probably not a good reason," Herbert said.
He added he believes the bill comes with some legal protection because of its provision that Utah will not implement the law until other states have tested it and it is deemed constitutional.
"(That) takes some of the risk out of it," the governor said.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Karianne Lisonbee, R-Clearfield, contains a "trigger" provision that spells out the ban would not take effect until a court ruled on its constitutionality.
It cleared the Senate on a final vote of 20-6, with all six Democratic senators opposed and every Republican on floor supporting the measure. There was no discussion in the Senate before Wednesday's initial vote, also along party lines.7 comments on this story
Senate President Stuart Adams, R-Layton, said Down syndrome is "really a sensitive issue" because of the late son of Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan. Matt Hillyard, who was a constant presence in past sessions, often giving out hugs, had Down syndrome.
"We did all love Matt," Senate Majority Assistant Whip Jani Iwamoto, D-Holladay, said.
When the bill was considered by the House, Lisonbee told representatives "social engineering is alive and well in Utah's abortion clinics and doctor's offices today as we see the eradication of babies with Down syndrome."
Contributing: Amy Joi O'Donoghue