Legislatures in SD, UT, WY Consider Abortion-Related Bills

State legislatures in South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming are considering recently introduced measures that would affect state abortion policies. In South Dakota, where an extreme abortion ban was defeated by voters in the November 2006 elections and a similar ban was just introduced last week, the House Health Committee approved on a vote of nine to three a bill that would require a physician to offer a sonogram to any pregnant woman seeking an abortion. If the woman refuses the offer to see a sonogram image, her declination must be documented. The bill was introduced by Representative Roger Hunt (R), the author and sponsor of last year’s abortion ban in South Dakota who came under criticism for establishing an organization that accepted a large donation to support the ban, but never disclosed the donor’s name.

In Utah, the House Health and Human Services Committee voted 6-2 to approve HB 235, which would ban abortion if Roe v. Wade was overturned. The bill does include exceptions, including to “avert a woman’s death” or to “avert a serious risk to a woman of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.” The bill also includes exceptions for rape and incest, as long as the incident is reported to law enforcement before the abortion is performed.

Finally, Wyoming’s House voted 32-28 to reject HB 144, known as the “Women’s Right to Know” bill, which would have required a 24-hour waiting period and a counseling session for any woman considering abortion. In addition, the bill would have required abortion providers to tell women about alternatives to having an abortion and the potential risks of the procedure, including “increased risks of breast cancer,” which has not been proven. NARAL Pro-Choice Wyoming Executive Director Sharon Breitweiser said of the vote, “No, we aren’t surprised, we’re confident that a majority of the representatives respect the doctor-patient relationship and trust women to make decisions,” the AP reports.
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Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy 2/5/07; AP 2/2/07; South Dakota HB 1296; Utah HB 235; Wyoming HB 0144

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