Utah Law Preventing Abortions at Tax-Funded Hospitals Under Fire

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 20, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Utah Law Preventing Abortions at Tax-Funded Hospitals Under Fire

by Maria Gallagher
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
May 20, 2004

Salt Lake City, UT (LifeNews.com) — A Utah woman is claiming that the state’s new abortion law is unfair because it prevented her from aborting her handicapped child at the hospital of her choice.

Suzie Combe from Roy, Utah says doctors told her that her 20-week-old unborn child had no chance of surviving outside the womb. She and her husband made the decision to have an abortion, but could not do so at McKay Dee Hospital in Ogden, in light of Utah’s newest pro-life legislation.

The Utah law enacted earlier this year means that a hospital could lose its public funding and the person performing the abortion could face criminal charges if an abortion is carried out at a medical facility which receives taxpayer funding. Exceptions can be made in rare cases of rape, incest, or when the mother’s health is at risk.

Combe told CBS-TV affiliate KUTV that doctors asked her, "Can you carry it (the baby) to term if it’s going to come out looking like this, ‘cause this is basically what it will look like." Combe made the statement while holding up what the television reporter described as "a gruesome picture of a deformed fetus."

The baby had been diagnosed with amniotic band syndrome, meaning that the organs were developing outside the baby’s body.

Confusing the issue is the fact that many news outlets are labeling Suzie and her husband as "anti-abortion," even though they decided to abort their unborn child.

Suzie Combe told KUTV, "It’s very hard that I cannot go where I’m comfortable with my own doctor at a hospital that I am comfortable with. It’s very hard to know that I can’t do that."

Since they could not get the hospital to perform the abortion, the Combes went to an abortion facility. The child was aborted earlier this week.

In a written statement, the new law’s sponsor, Utah state Senator Curtis Bramble said, "My heart goes out to the mother in this tragic, extremely personal situation. When policy modifications need to be made, we are certainly willing. I want to study this matter intently, and may propose corrections to our law."

But pro-life advocates note that the media frenzy over the Combe case fails to acknowledge the fact that abortion itself can be quite dangerous for a mother, putting her at risk for a host of physical and psychological complications, including sterility.

Combe’s husband, Glen, told the television station, "This isn’t about political affiliation. For me it’s about my wife’s rights and our rights to family in this state."

Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion operation, appears to be seizing on the Combe case in an effort to get the law changed.

Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Karrie Galloway said, "It didn’t need to happen. The legislature had an opportunity to consider this very issue, of fetuses incompatible with life or anomaly. They chose to disregard what would happen to these families."

But Utah lawmakers already voted down amendments which would have opened loopholes to allow abortions at publicly-funded hospitals in certain cases.

Meanwhile, the Utah Attorney General’s office has said that the pro-life law is ambiguous and needs to be clarified.

The Alan Guttmacher Institute, the research arm of Planned Parenthood, reported that some 3510 abortions occurred in Utah in the year 2000. That would work out to 6.6 abortions for every 1,000 women in the state.

An estimated 70 women undergo abortions in Utah each year because of "fatal fetal deformities."

Still, doctors have been known to be wrong about predictions that a baby will be born with handicaps. Because of a number of advancements in medical science, children are now able to overcome disabilities that were once viewed as a death sentence.

Sen. Bramble previously told the Associated Press that doctors embark on a "slippery slope" when they try to define fetal deformities.

"What is the definition of what’s ‘incompatible with life’? How long is it inconsistent with life? A breath? A minute? A month? I have an inherent discomfort with trying to decide which child should live," Bramble said.

Related web sites:
Utah State Legislature – https://www.leg.state.ut.us