So far this general session not much has been proposed on abortion. But that may change.
Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, tells UtahPolicy that she is abandoning – at least for this year – her bill that would have outlawed abortions based on the sex of the baby.
Instead, she has a short abortion bill, SB60, introduced Tuesday, that would require the state Health Department to keep track of all abortions performed in the state each year and detail how far along the embryo/fetus is at the time of the abortion.
Dayton tells UtahPolicy that while her bill only deals with the gathering of data, there are other “protected” abortion-related bills that she won’t talk about, being prepared by other legislators, that could come this session, or could come in a future session and use her data-collecting for their justifications.
Thursday is the deadline for bills to be numbered and introduced in the 2013, 45-day general session. Thus, at least by title, any abortion bills should be divulged then.
Dayton was looking at running a bill this session that would prohibit gender-based abortions.
But she said Tuesday that she decided to go with SB60 instead because there was vital abortion data that needs to be collected and analyzed first.
Utahns interested in the abortion/women’s choice issue know that there are statistics, currently, about how many abortions are performed in this state each year.
But, says Dayton, those are federal government figures, not state figures.
“I believe we need to have our own state statistics” on abortions, she said. And then Utah won’t be dependent on changes, or whims, in federal abortion-related law.
She wants to know at what point in a pregnancy a fetus is aborted because those statistics could play into future anti-abortion bills either she or others are planning, she added.
SB60 doesn’t attempt to determine if a fetus is a male or female.
“You really can’t do that before 15 weeks without an invasive procedure,” she said.
In other words, at 15 weeks a normal sonogram (sound-based picture) may be able to see sex organs on a fetus.
“We are not asking in my new bill (for the state) to determine whether” it is a boy or girl – data that may show Utah women are aborting more girls than boys or vice a versa.
And Dayton said she couldn’t say whether that at some future point the state could require some kind of “invasive” procedure to determine sex before an abortion could be performed.
It’s well documented that in China, because the culture favors male children and there is a one-child state policy, that some women have abortions so they won’t have girl babies – and then try later for a male child.
Does that really happen in Utah and America? Or is Dayton’s concerns an issue looking for a problem?
Dayton said a quick search on the Internet can find sites where the viewer sees methods to determine fetus gender, how Medicaid can be used for such determinations, and how abortions can be provided for the low-income women, and other issues that could lead one to wonder why such information is even relative in deciding whether to have an abortion.
The web sites, she believes, are precursors for a woman, or parents, to get information that could lead to gender-based abortions.
“This could be the case for any number of reasons; whether the woman only wants a small number of children” in a short time frame and so on, Dayton said.
“But first” before deciding what should, or could, be done about gender-based abortion control, “we need all the data. That is what my bill seeks.”