SALT LAKE CITY -- A measure that would triple the waiting period for abortions in Utah from 24 to 72 hours has cleared its first hurdle.
The House Health and Human Services Committee endorsed the bill with a 4-1 vote Friday and sent it to the full House.
The measure would make Utah tied with South Dakota for the longest waiting period for an abortion in the country.
The sponsor of HB 461, Rep. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy, said Planned Parenthood's website says some women feel anger, regret and sadness about undergoing an abortion.
"Basically, this is a consumer protection issue that gives a person facing a major life decision, a major medical decision, a major financial decision, sufficient time to consider the ramifications," he said, adding it would help overcome any pressure from a boyfriend or others to have a quick abortion.
Laura Bunker, of conservative United Families Utah, also supported the bill.
"Seventy-two hours is not too much to ask for a life-altering decision that affects a woman, her child and generations to come," she said.
But Heather Stringfellow, vice president of Planned Parenthood of Utah, said women usually have thought long and hard before talking to a doctor about abortion.
"We believe this bill is a bad policy that will not reduce the number of abortions but rather punish women for making the choice to terminate a pregnancy," she said.
If lawmakers intend to reduce abortions, they should do more to get women access to contraceptives and information about avoiding unwanted pregnancies, Stringfellow said.
Marina Lowe, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah, said South Dakota's new law imposing a 72-hour waiting period for abortions is being challenged in court.
A federal judge has issued a temporary restraining order to prevent it from taking effect.