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UT Anti-Abortion Bill Withdrawn by Sponsor

An anti-choice Utah bill that would have criminalized miscarriages caused by women’s unintentional or reckless actions was withdrawn by its sponsor, State Representative Carl Wimmer (R), for revisions yesterday. The bill had passed in the state legislature and was sent to Utah Governor Gary Herbert (R) for his signature last week, but was sent back to the legislature for changes without a signature or an outright veto. A spokeswoman for Governor Herbert told the Salt Lake Tribune that “he supports the intent of this bill but the concern was that any possible unintended consequences would harm that original intent, so the concern was eliminating those unintended consequences and getting back to the very good intentions of the bill.” State Representative Wimmer intends to remove language that makes any “reckless acts” by women that induce miscarriage eligible for homicide prosecution, reported the Cleveland Leader. The bill (see PDF) stated “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.” According to Utah Legislature Watch implications of the original bill could have included 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:

Salt Lake Tribune 3/4/10; Utah HB 12; Feminist Daily Newswire 3/1/10; Utah Legislature Watch; Cleveland Leader 3/5/10

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