SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Abortion clinics would be required to cremate or bury fetal remains and women would have to get an ultrasound before the procedure under proposals approved by lawmakers in Utah this week, over objections that the new rules would erode access to abortion.
The Legislature on Friday passed the bill regulating the disposal of the fetal remains after a miscarriage or abortion. Republican sponsor Curt Bramble said in a statement the requirements will ensure dignified treatment, choices for parents and space to grieve if needed. Opponents argue the rules are aimed at stigmatizing abortion and can be costly for clinics or hospitals. Similar bills have been proposed in several other states.
It now goes to GOP Gov. Gary Herbert for his signature.
The ultrasound bill would require a technician to display images and make the fetal heartbeat audible for each woman. Republican sponsor Rep. Steve Christiansen said those steps could make a woman choose not to have an abortion.
“When a woman sees live video of the baby that’s within her womb and hears a heartbeat … logic would say that many women are going to choose life,” he said Thursday. His proposal is modeled after a similar law in Kentucky that the U.S. Supreme Court allowed to stand in December.
The Utah bill states a woman can look away or ask the volume of the heartbeat be turned down, but physicians who perform an abortion without an ultrasound could face fines starting at up to $100,000.
It passed the Utah House on Thursday over the objections of Democrats like Rep. Suzanne Harrison, who said it would force doctors to “perform completely unnecessary tests, which, actually in this case, can potentially increase harm to the fetus.” It now moves to the Senate.
Lawmakers are also considering another proposal to ban abortions completely, with exceptions for rape and serious risk to the health of the mother. If passed, that plan has a so-called trigger clause and would only go into effect if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, the decision that legalized abortion.
Abortion opponents around the country are hopeful new conservatives on the Supreme Court would reconsider the 1974 ruling. Alabama passed a near-total ban on abortions last year, and several states passed bans after a heartbeat is detected, around six weeks. None have gone into effect.