SALT LAKE CITY — Aubree Jo’s Law, otherwise known as House Bill 88, may be put on the Senate calendar for a vote before the session ends Thursday.
Rep. Ryan Wilcox, R-Ogden, the bill’s sponsor, said Tuesday that an amendment has been tentatively approved by senators who were concerned the word “gender” in the bill would open a legal quagmire.
The amendment reads, “In determining any form of custody, the court shall consider the best interests of the child without preference for either the mother or father solely because of the biological sex of the parent, or the parent’s religious affiliation.”
The bill, which was approved unanimously by the House Law Enforcement and Justice Committee on Jan. 31 and unanimously by the House on Feb. 14, originally stated courts could not discriminate in a custody dispute based on gender, race, ethnicity or religion.
The bill is named after Aubree Jo Anderson, who died Feb. 23, 2011, in a single-car crash after her mother blacked out while driving and slammed into decorative boulders. Her father had tried to get custody of Aubree Jo, but he was denied.
Aubree Jo’s mother, Brandi Lee Stilke, had a history of drug abuse and is now serving up to five years in Utah State Prison for negligent operation of a vehicle, which caused the toddler’s death. Toxicology tests showed Stilke had marijuana and OxyContin in her system at the time of the crash.