Utah abortion data bill clears Senate despite race issue

Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 10:39 AM

Antone Clark

SALT LAKE CITY — A bill requiring that federal abortion data on the race and ethnicity of women having abortions be available to a state agency has cleared the Senate after generating some sparks in floor debate a day earlier.

The Senate voted Wednesday to approve SB 60, sponsored by Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, to require the Utah Department of Health to prepare an annual report on abortions in the Beehive State.

The data is generated from a federal form on which the provider asks questions of the patient. The form also allows participants to state the reason they chose the procedure.

The bill is the only abortion-related measure being considered by the Legislature this session.

All five Democrats in the Senate raised concerns about the measure during debate on the bill Tuesday.

“I just think there are times when people go through some agonizing experience and to ask them to give more information that might add to that agony, I’m not sure I feel comfortable with that,” Sen. Pat Jones, D-Salt Lake City, said of the bill.

Minority Leader Gene Davis, D-Salt Lake City, is concerned that race is being brought into the issue.

“When it’s a woman having an abortion, I don’t think it’s germane, the ethnicity part of this. That’s not an important piece of statistic for the state to be caring about,” Davis said.

Dayton thinks concerns raised over the bill are overblown.

“I think we are losing sight of the bill. This bill focuses only on making available to the state the kind of information the government is gathering.”

She also mused over reaction to the bill.

“I think it’s a good thing we have only five members of the minority party, because I’ve heard from all of them.”

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