Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, is looking at an idea to legislate a ban on gender-related abortions in Utah.
The only female Republican in the state Senate has opened a bill file to investigate if there is a need for a law in Utah that would penalize those participating in an abortion that was based on the sex of an unborn baby.
"Several states have strengthened their pro-life legislation by disallowing for abortions that are wanted just for gender preference. I want to review what other states are doing and see if that would enhance Utah's laws," Dayton said.
Dayton clarified that there was no language for a bill yet and that her move to open a bill file was to begin the discovery process on the subject.
Should a bill be drafted and Dayton moves forward with the idea at least one legislator has said that she will have some concerns about putting the bill into law.
"Many of our abortion bills and laws are a solution looking for a problem," Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck, D-Salt Lake City, said. "I would want to know if there are women in the state doing this right now. I don't think that there are."
Chavez-Houck also expressed concern about the burden that might be placed on health care providers should such a law be enacted. If the law was to be passed some providers might feel it necessary to ask a woman why she was having the abortion to stay in compliance with the law. Chavez-Houck had concerns that the law could force providers to violate federal privacy laws if they disclose certain information about their patients.
Three states have such a ban in place already. Oklahoma, Illinois and Pennsylvania all have passed similar laws. Arizona, in 2011, took the idea a step further and passed a law that prohibited abortions performed on the basis of gender or race.
Arizona's law does not penalize the mother for having the abortion; rather the law is designed to go after the doctors that performed the abortion, if it can be found they did perform it based on the gender or race of the baby.
A nationwide ban on gender-related abortions also was considered by the U.S. House of Representatives in May. The bill received a majority of the votes in the House but failed to reach the two-thirds vote it needed to pass -- a procedure used to bring the bill to the floor required the two-thirds vote. All three of Utah's House members, including Democrat Rep. Jim Matheson, voted in favor of the law.
The proposed nationwide ban also did not look to punish a woman for seeking an abortion due to the gender of the baby. It was also designed to go after doctors who performed the action.
If Dayton chooses to move forward and draft a bill dealing with this issue it would be considered in the Legislature's next general session, which begins in January.
The heavily Republican-dominated Legislature likely will be supportive of Dayton's proposal should she move forward with the bill. State lawmakers in the past have generally been friendly to bills that limit the number of abortions that take place in the state. In the 2012 session lawmakers passed a law that required women seeking abortions to wait three days before they can go forward with the procedure.