Utah Legislators Revamp Abortion ban to Focus on Finances for Legal Defense

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 7, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Utah Legislators Revamp Abortion ban to Focus on Finances for Legal Defense

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
January 7
, 2009

Salt Lake City, UT (LifeNews.com) — Members of the state legislature who are behind an effort to ban abortions in the state are backing off their proposal for this legislative session. Instead, they plan to focus on creating a legal defense fund to raise money to be able to afford attorneys to defend the ban in court.

Reps. Stephen Sandstrom, Carl Wimmer and Ken Sumsion are behind the effort, but they say passing an abortion ban now would put the cart before the horse.

That’s because abortion advocates are guaranteed to file a lawsuit against the ban once it becomes law and legislators will need at least $2 million to defend it in court.

Wimmer described the process of putting together a legal defense fund in an interview with the Salt Lake City Tribune.

"We are looking at wanting to ban abortion in Utah, period, end of story. However, we want to do it correctly," he said. We’re not going to back away from abortion. We’re never going to let it die."

Wimmer said a private organization has offered to defend the abortion ban, which would prevent virtually all abortions except in certain rare cases. As a result, Attorney General Mark Shurtleff "would have to give up the right to defend it because, the fact is, it would end up costing about $2 million, and we don’t have the money."

Wimmer acknowledges that Shurtleff is "passionate" about defending the ban and knows that he would have to oversee any legal defense of the ban as the state’s top attorney, so he decided to put the defense fund together.

The fund will be open for five years and if there is not enough money to defend the abortion ban after that period, the money will be used to support abortion alternatives.

The Tribune indicates a similar fund was set up when the state last attempted to ban abortions and it only received a little more than $12,000 while the state spent $1 million to defend the law.

Missy Bird, executive director of the Planned Parenthood Action Committee, condemned the idea to the paper and said the state would be better off spending the money on promoting her abortion business or contraception.

According to the state health department, there were 3,338 abortions statewide in 2003.

The Utah Department of Health estimates that 195 girls under 18 had abortions in Utah then, according to the latest statistics available. Twenty-four of the girls were younger than 15 and 171 were 15 to 17.

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