SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Two Utah lawmakers said Wednesday they’re planning to propose legislation that would defund Planned Parenthood in the state and restrict late-term abortions.
Republican Sen. Margaret Dayton of Orem said that she’s grateful for Republican Gov. Gary Herbert’s move to stop the flow of federal money and she wants the legislature to eliminate public funding for Planned Parenthood.
Herbert’s action has been blocked by a federal judge. Planned Parenthood’s Utah branch gets about $200,000 to test for sexually transmitted disease testing and promote abstinence education, money that forms a small portion of their overall budget.
His move came in response to the release of secretly recorded videos by a California anti-abortion group that show Planned Parenthood officials describing how they provide fetal tissue from abortions for medical research. Herbert said he was offended by the “casualness” and “callousness” of the discussion.
Though Planned Parenthood gets no direct state money and federal cash can’t be used for abortions, Dayton argued that no tax money at all should go an organization that performs them.
The group says that the videos were edited deceptively and they have done nothing wrong.
But the videos have nevertheless also sparked a budget fight in Congress, where conservatives are trying to end federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
Republican Sen. Curt Bramble of Provo, meanwhile, said he’s preparing a bill to restrict abortions after the time when a fetus can feel pain, though the said he wished he could do more.
“If we could run a bill that would repeal Roe v. Wade, we would,” he said.
Though Bramble declined to specify what stage of development his proposal would target, 11 other states have banned abortions after 20 weeks based on the assertion that fetuses can feel pain after that point, according to the abortion rights nonprofit Guttmacher Institute. That assertion is disputed by medical research.
Arizona’s 20-week ban was struck down in 2013 in a decision that the U.S. Supreme Court later decided not to reconsider.
Bramble says he’s weighing the legal landscape as well as potential exceptions as he drafts his bill. Neither lawmaker unveiled exact details of their proposals on Wednesday.
Utah’s Planned Parenthood CEO Karrie Galloway says the lawmakers are trying to score political points at the expense of women’s health, and her group’s nine centers with keep their doors open to give women “the care they need.”
The two Utah lawmakers spoke during a news conference at the state capitol building announcing a new nine-group coalition dedicated to opposing abortion and assisted suicide.
It was attended by people carrying signs reading “Abortion Hurts Women” and “Life is the First Inalienable Right.”
Gayle Ruzicka with the Utah Eagle Forum says that she expects a proposal to allow physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill people in Utah to be re-introduced during the next legislative session, which begins Jan. 25. Members of the coalition plan to speak against the idea.
Advocates say that right-to-die legislation gives people the right to end their lives on their own terms, but opponents said Wednesday it cheapens the lives of the sick and elderly.
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