by Maria Gallagher
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
September 13, 2004
Salt Lake CIty, UT (LifeNews.com) — A bill that would allow taxpayer funding for certain abortions has been put on hold in Utah. The legislation, which would have allowed public funding for the abortion of the handicapped children of poor women, did not make the Governor’s agenda for this week’s special session.
The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Curtis Bramble (R-Provo), has said the legislation is probably too controversial to deal with now. Bramble has claimed the bill is designed to deal with a “gap in coverage” for abortions.
"I expect there will be some folks on the more extreme side of the pro-life debate that will oppose this. But they oppose any abortions for any reason," he said.
"I view myself as staunchly pro-life, but I believe there are reasonable exceptions,” Bramble told the Deseret Morning News.
However, pro-life activists insist that children with disabilities should be protected from harm — not have their lives violently ended through abortion. They note that being “pro-life” means opposing abortion — even when the unborn child has health problems.
Bramble made his bill public on the same day that a U.S. District Court judge in Nebraska declared the federal ban on partial-birth abortion unconstitutional. The federal law is similar to legislation passed in Utah during the last session. Bramble sponsored Utah’s partial-birth abortion ban, which is also facing a legal challenge.
A spokeswoman for the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is representing the Utah Women’s Clinic and the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah in their court suit, told the Deseret Morning News that the court decisions “would indicate the Utah law should fall.” But backers of the Utah legislation believe their law can withstand judicial scrutiny.
Public officials in Utah are also embroiled in a struggle over whether hospitals that receive public funding should be able to perform abortions on women carrying handicapped children.
A rule change being considered by the Utah Department of Health would allow a publicly-funded hospital to perform such an abortion if the facility can show it is not using public dollars to pay for the abortion. The rule could be adopted as early as October 2.
Information about the proposed rule change can be found at the state health department’s website at https://www.rules.utah.gov/publicat/bulletin/2004/20040901/27227.htm