Utah Senate passes anesthesia requirement for 20-week abortions

On Monday, the Utah State Senate voted 20-3 to pass legislation requiring any abortion past 20 weeks of pregnancy to include anesthesia for the preborn baby.

The bill, SB 234, is based on a body of medical research strongly indicating that preborn children are capable of feeling pain around 20 weeks. Current law only requires abortionists to inform women of fetal pain and offer anesthesia as an option.

It contains one amendment waiving the requirement in cases of the mother’s health (a standard pro-lifers fear is too broad under the Supreme Court’s definition of health, and could theoretically exempt any abortion) and cases where the baby is not expected survive outside the womb if carried to term.

Federal pro-life legislative efforts and many state efforts prefer to ban abortion outright at 20 weeks, but bill sponsor Sen. Curt Bramble maintains that this measure is the most feasible at the moment: “If we could prohibit all abortions except in the rarest of circumstances, if we could overturn Roe v. Wade, I would be a proud sponsor of that bill.”

Despite the fact that the bill does nothing to prevent late-term abortions, Planned Parenthood of Utah still protested it outside the Senate, brandishing signs calling on lawmakers to “Keep Politics Out of the Exam Room” and declaring “Senator Bramble Is NOT My Doctor.”

SB 234 now moves on to the state House of Representatives, where Republicans hold a 63-12 majority. Governor Gary Herbert has suggested he is open to signing the bill.

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