Utah House Cmte OKs Bill After Rare Teen Abortion-Miscarriage Case
by Steven Ertelt
January 27, 2010
Salt Lake City, UT (LifeNews.com) — A Utah state House committee approved a bill today that would allow charges to be filed in cases where a woman tries to arrange an illegal abortion. The bill is a response to a case that received national attention where a Utah girl who paid a man to hit her in the stomach in an attempt to cause a miscarriage-abortion.
The case involves 21-year-old Aaron Harrison whom the unnamed 17-year-old girl asked in May to help her cause an abortion to kill her seven-month-old unborn child.
The court documents show the girl’s boyfriend had threatened to leave her if she did not get an abortion.
Harrison, a friend of the girl, reportedly struck and bit her and she paid him $150 to do so. The unborn baby survived the attack and doctors induced labor so the baby could be born and the child was placed in state custody.
In November, 8th District Juvenile Judge Larry A. Steele used a state abortion law that one state legislator says was applied wrongly to absolve her of any responsibility.
He said Utah abortion law is "unambiguous" when it states, "a woman who is seeking to have or obtains an abortion for herself is not criminally liable."
Today, Republican Rep. Carl Wimmer won approval for his bill that was sparked by the unusual case.
The bill clarifies when abortions are legal and when "terminating a pregnancy" in a non-abortion manner is a charge of criminal homicide, a second-degree felony. Wimmer agreed to draft an amendment specifically exempting spontaneous miscarriages from HB 12.
Wimmer said the case might be rare, but "this is one of those times when justice was called for but left wanting. Justice was not served in this case."
The adoptive mother of the baby in question, according to the Deseret News, testified in favor of the bill saying she is "so grateful that the attempt on her life was unsuccessful. A pregnant woman is the steward of her baby. She is a beautiful child with a strong future ahead of her."
Last year, Wimmer said he was "absolutely outraged" at the decision and planned to "close that loophole for good."
"The judge is absolutely stretching," he said. "There’s no way the judge believes the Utah Legislature left open this loophole. I guarantee it will be closed this next session."
During the trial, the teen’s attorney Rich King, said, "Women may use any procedure or method of terminating pregnancy, by abortion or by miscarriage, and they cannot be charged with a crime."
Prosecutors had argued the girl’s failed attempt was not a legal abortion because it can only be done by a licensed physician in the state.
The House Health and Human Services Committee approved the bill.
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