Utah may put new mandates on abortion providers

A Utah lawmaker wants new mandates put on doctors before they perform an abortion in the state.

A bill sponsored by Rep. Steve Christiansen would require that before a woman gives her informed consent to an abortion, a doctor must first perform an ultrasound on the woman, describe the images on the ultrasound and make audible the fetal heartbeat, if possible.

 

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The bill, HB 364, also imposes a $100,000 fine on doctors who do not comply with the proposed new law. A $250,000 fine is imposed on the doctor’s subsequent offense.

The bill provides that a pregnant woman may not choose to view the images produced by the ultrasound and not to listen to the fetal heartbeat. The measure also requires the Utah Department of Health to make available online a form to be signed by a physician or qualified technician performing the mandatory ultrasound. The doctor or technician must also provide a list of groups to patients that offer free or low -cost ultrasounds.

Lauren Simpson, policy director for the Alliance for a Better Utah, said the bill lashes women seeking an abortion.

“Representative Christiansen is proposing that Utah doctors force a woman to look away from an ultrasound if she doesn’t want to see it and request that audio be turned down or off if she doesn’t want to hear it,” Simpson said. “This is a cruel attempt to take away a woman’s agency at an incredibly sensitive time. The sole purpose of this bill is to punish women for making the deeply complicated and personal decision to have an abortion.”

Simpson said Utah women already have the option to watch an ultrasound and listen to the cardiac rhythm.

Merrilee Boyack, of Abortion-Free Utah, told The Salt Lake Tribune the ultrasound mandated in HB 364 will give women clear, accurate information.

“I think hiding the scientific reality of what they are experiencing and the development of that child, I think that is cruel,” Boyack said.