The initial proposal, House Bill 136, was filed by Rep. Cheryl Acton, R-West Jordan and sought to ban abortion after 15 weeks gestational age. The bill was later amended to 18 weeks, an amount Acton determined was more likely to survive a potential court challenge.
The bill has exceptions to the 18-week limit in the case that doctors determine a fetus is not viable, that giving birth to child would put a mother at serious risk, and in the case of rape and incest.
The bill has faced opposition and could face legal challenges in the future.
“It is unconstitutional, which the legislature knows, and we will file a lawsuit and ask for a temporary restraining order to keep this from going into law,” Planned Parenthood Association of Utah vice president of public policy Heather Stringfellow told 2News.
During debate on the senate floor, HB 136’s senate sponsor Sen. Deidre Henderson, R-Utah County, said the bill protects abortion rights while limiting the scope of when the procedure can be performed. Henderson said:
“This bill preserves the woman’s right to choose to have an abortion for any reason up until 18 weeks I think it sends a message that we here in the state of Utah, value life."
Democrat Senators Derek Kitchen, D-Salt Lake City, and Gene Davis, D-Salt Lake County, spoke against H.B. 136.
“I believe that women have rights; they have a right to make a choice," Davis said. "We continue to try to deny them that right when the courts have said they have that right to make a choice."