Utah House Committee Approves Legal Defense Fund for Expected Abortion Ban
by Steven Ertelt
February 4, 2009
Salt Lake City, UT (LifeNews.com) — A Utah state House committee put its stamp of approval on a bill to create a legal defense fund in anticipation of an eventual attempt to ban abortions. Legislators behind the bill want to create a 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.
Their measure, House Bill 114, would create a legal defense fund that private citizens could donate to in order to defend an abortion ban they expect to receive approval of by 2014.
A House panel unanimously approved it on Wednesday and now it heads to the full House for a debate and vote.
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.
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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