Women seeking abortion would have to undergo ultrasound and listen to heartbeat first under Republican bill

Danielle Zoellner
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Utah women seeking an abortion would have to undergo an ultrasound and listen to the fetal heartbeat first, a new Republican bill requires.

The bill was introduced on Wednesday to the state legislature by freshman representative Steve Christiansen.

Under the law, physicians would be required to "describe the images produced by the ultrasound" to the pregnant woman and locate the fetal heartbeat "if possible", according to HB364.

The bill also stipulates the physician is not required to prevent the pregnant woman from "averting her eyes" from the ultrasound images or lowering the volume of the heartbeat.

Following the ultrasound, the physician is then required to fill out a form, to be created by the Utah Department of Health, that would state the pregnant woman fulfilled her requirements for the abortion.

A physician is not legally allowed to perform an abortion on a pregnant woman unless she has completed the ultrasound requirement and has documentation of proof. Failing to require proof before performing the abortion would result in the physician receiving a fine of up to $100,000 for the first offense and $250,000 for subsequent offenses.

This new law would replace the current one, which states pregnant women have the right to request an ultrasound prior to an abortion if they want one, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.

The ACLU of Utah wrote a response to the new bill on Twitter, calling the ultrasound "medically unnecessary" for the pregnant woman. The group said the bill was modeled off a similar law in Kentucky, and it staunchly opposed the new requirement.

Lauren Simpson, policy director for Alliance for a Better Utah, a progressive nonprofit, released a statement about the new bill on Wednesday.

"Under Utah law, women already have the option to watch an ultrasound and listen to that cardiac rhythm if she chooses. Forcing that experience on someone while permitting her to 'avert her eyes' or request for the volume to be lowered or turned off is not a legitimate exception to this mandate," she said.

"The sole purpose of this bill is to punish women for making the deeply complicated and personal decision to have an abortion."

This new proposed bill comes less than one week after the Utah Senate passed SB67, which requires health care providers to cremate or bury fetal remains after a miscarriage or abortion.

Senator Curt Bramble said the purpose of the bill was to ensure unborn children were buried with dignity. "If you believe that an unborn child is a human being then when that life is terminated, dealing with the remains is important," Mr Bramble said, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

Pro-choice advocates, including Planned Parenthood Action Council of Utah, made it clear what they thought was the intent of the passed bill.

"This bill is part of a coordinated effort by anti-abortion activists who want to make all abortion illegal," the group wrote.

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