Utah Legislators May Allow Tax-Funded Abortions on Disabled Children

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 27, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Utah Legislators May Allow Tax-Funded Abortions on Disabled Children

by Maria Gallgher
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
May 27, 2004

Salt Lake City, UT (LifeNews.com) — Children with disabilities could be aborted at publicly funded hospitals in Utah, under a proposal that’s being pushed by some hospital administrators.

The development comes after a highly publicized case in which a woman was not able to have an abortion at a taxpayer-funded hospital. Doctors had told the woman that the baby’s organs were developing outside the body and that the baby would not be able to survive after birth, which they used as a rationale for recommending abortion.

The woman, Suzie Combe, ultimately had the abortion at Utah Women’s Clinic, an abortion business, after she was refused an abortion at McKay-Dee Hospital.

Under a law which took effect May 3, public funding can be cut off to any Utah agency that performs abortions except in cases involving rape, incest, or severe damage to a "major bodily function" of the mother.

As a result, Utah hospitals have stopped performing abortions because they fear the loss of Medicaid and money from the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

But news media outlets have tried to depict the Combe case as evidence of why the law should be changed. And now, the sponsor of the law, Sen. Curt Bramble (R-Provo), says he is willing to amend the law to avoid what he terms as another "tragedy."

"There was no intent in this bill to create the problem that Mrs. Combe faced," Bramble told the Salt Lake Tribune.

Bramble is proposing enlarging the list of exceptions in the law to include "fetal anomalies."

And an associate vice president for health services at the University of Utah, Kim Wirthlin, told the Salt Lake City Tribune, "It’s important to amend the bill to include an exception for lethal fetal deformity."

Utah Governor Olene Walker has said she would consider putting the issue on a special session agenda if lawmakers bring it to her.

However, a change in the law could jeopardize the health and safety of women.

A large body of research indicates that abortion is more dangerous than childbirth. Many women who undergo abortions do not realize that they are at risk of a host of complications, including sterility and even death.

According to the Elliot Institute, which studies the aftereffects of abortion, women who undergo abortions are more likely to suffer from depression and psychiatric hospitalization than women who give birth.

Pro-life advocates note that the pro-abortion lobby routinely presents dire medical scenarios in an effort to legitimize abortion. For instance, pro-abortion forces have tried to popularize the view that children with "fetal abnormalities," or handicaps, should be aborted.

However, new medical breakthroughs have allowed doctors to correct some disabilities within the womb or after birth. In some cases, doctors who thought that a child with a disability would not survive have been proven wrong.

Moreover, a number of parents of children with handicaps say that a disability should not be considered a death sentence for a child — that children with disabilities should have as much right to life as other children.

When the legislation was originally being considered, one lawmaker proposed an exception for fetal handicaps "generally considered to be lethal within 72 hours."

However, House sponsor Morgan Philpot said at the time that the amendment created a loophole and the legislation was approved without the amendment. Bramble, the bill’s Senate sponsor, now says he supported the amendment.

Meanwhile, published reports say that lawyers for the Utah Department of Health are trying to draft rules which could create a loophole for hospitals. The rules might allow hospitals to distinguish the money spent on abortions from other hospital procedures to show that public funds are not being used to end an unborn child’s life.

Assistant Attorney General Doug Springmeyer told the Tribune, "We’re hopeful that the rule will provide additional guidance and perhaps a safe harbor. That would then open the door for hospitals to choose to recommence that service."

But far from being a service, pro-life advocates note that abortion is a tragedy — for both baby and mother.

Related web sites:
Elliot Institute – https://www.afterabortion.org