Proposed abortion law update will ditch printed materials in favor of technology to inform women about risks and alternatives

A new proposal on Utah’s Capitol Hill seeks to replace an informational pamphlet and video women seeking an abortion are required to read with an informational module and a website.

SB118, sponsored by Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, updates the current state law to reflect easier access to technology for abortion providers and their patients.

Women seeking an abortion still must have a face-to-face meeting with a medical professional 72 hours before seeking an abortion, which requires two trips to the facility. Instead of the doctor giving her a pamphlet and showing her a video designed to discourage her from seeking an abortion, the doctor will now use an “information module” and website produced by the Utah Department of Health.

The bill specifies the module will describe the abortion procedure and related risks, the medical risks from the procedure and alternatives to abortion, including assistance for prenatal care, adoption services and the responsibility for fathers to take care of their children. The new legislation also requires a “geographically indexed” list of assistance services that women seeking an abortion can access.

If a woman becomes pregnant as a result of rape, but not incest, and seeks an abortion, she is not required to hear information about the responsibility of fathers to take care of their children. 

Previously, a woman seeking an abortion had to certify, in writing, that she received the information in the pamphlet and video. The new legislation now requires a staff member to present evidence that she watched the entire module before she can seek the procedure. If, after the face-to-face consultation, the woman chooses to move forward with an abortion, she must provide written certification that she was provided the required information. 

According to the Guttmacher Institute, just under 3,000 abortions were provided in Utah in 2014, which is a 14% decline since 2011. Abortions in Utah represent less than one-half of one percent of all abortions nationwide.

The number of facilities providing abortions in Utah fell from 9 providers in 2011 to just 6 in 2014.