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Bill That Could Criminalize Illegal Abortion Awaits UT Governor’s Signature

A bill that could criminalize illegal abortions was sent to Utah Governor Gary Herbert (R) for his signature last week. The bill was passed by the state House at the end of January and the state Senate in mid-February. The New York Times reports that Governor Herbert has said he agrees with the bill’s general goals, but is still studying the specifics. The bill states “a person commits criminal homicide if the person intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, with criminal negligence, or acting with a mental state otherwise specified in the statute defining the offense, causes the death of another human being, including an unborn child at any stage of its development.” The bill formally criminalizes illegal abortions, treating them as homicide, but could also have other far-reaching consequences on the right to choose. According to Utah Legislature Watch implications of the bill could include potential criminalization of “any number of harmless activities undertaken by pregnant women, [whose] activities could be seen by someone else as endangering a pregnancy;” could increase threats of “prosecution for pregnant women who are struggling with addiction;” could “result in midwives or doulahs being charged with killing or attempted killing,” and perhaps most dangerously, “could unnecessarily target women who miscarry, with no ill intent and/or through no fault of their own.”

Sources:

New York Times 2/28/10; Criminal Homicide and Abortion Amendments; Utah Legislature Watch

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