HB462 Criminal Homicide and Abortion Revisions, the replacement bill for HB12 Criminal Homicide and Abortion Amendments, passed both the House and the Senate yesterday on The Hill. The bill is headed to the Governor’s desk for signing on Monday.
The news has hit the New York Times and Ms. Magazine (which references Utah Legislature Watch).
The bill’s original language was amended to take out the word “reckless”
…. in reference to behavior but retains “intentional” acts by the woman that cause an abortion as grounds for a charge of aggravated murder.
The measure doesn’t change the state’s legal abortion statutes but establishes Utah as the only state to set parameters on when a woman can be held criminally responsible for causing the end of a pregnancy at her own hand or means outside a doctor’s care.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Carl Wimmer, R-Herriman, expressed that interpretations of the bill’s language were “fabrications”.
Rep. Carl Wimmer, R-Herriman, said his original bill was designed to go after mothers who recklessly use illegal drugs and lose their fetus and insisted that claims it could extend more broadly were “an absolute farce and a lie.”
“The rumors,” he said, “that this bill allowed women to be charged for slipping on ice or driving down the road without her seat belt and getting in an accident: total fabrication.”
Wimmer drafted the bill in response to an incident involving a 17 year old pregnant woman who paid a man to beat her until she miscarried (the fetus survived and has been adopted)
Democrats in the legislature are still wary about the bill:
Democrats commended Wimmer for revising his bill, but many remain unconvinced the legislation is needed at all. Democratic Representative Brian King said empowering the state to “poke around in the bedrooms and doctor’s offices” of Utahns runs counter to the Legislature’s conservative nature.
“You know, sometimes I think the disconnect between our words, and what we claim are our stated beliefs and what we do are so great that we ought to treat some of our members for whiplash. It’s that, there’s that big a gap,” said King.