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Bill seeks to prohibit tattooing for youths, even with parental permission

SALT LAKE CITY — A bill that would prohibit tattooing of youths, even with parental consent, was held in committee Tuesday to allow the sponsor of the legislation to work on possible amendments and provide more information to committee members how other states impose bans on body art.

As originally drafted, HB143, sponsored by Rep. LaVar Christensen, R-Draper, would also establish a civil cause of action of the cost of removal of a tattoo performed on a person younger than 18.

But Christensen said he had prepared amendments that would provide exemptions for tattoos placed by health care providers and another that would consider allowing youths ages 16 and up to obtain tattoos with written parental consent.

Christensen said he introduced the legislation after he saw some "little children with tattoos at very early age on their persons."

While a representative of the Utah Medical Association spoke in favor of medical exemptions, others argued that the bill overreached into family life.

Rep. Brian Greene, R-Pleasant Grove, said the practice of tattooing is highly regarded in Polynesian cultures.

"One thing I don't see in the amendment is a religious exemption," he said.

Rep. Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, said the law allows parents to allow their children to undergo "significantly medically involved procedures we don't even think twice about. I'm thinking of circumcision."

Rep. Lowry Snow, R-Santa Clara, said he would like more information about how other states that ban tattooing of youths address the prohibitions.

Christensen said he would provide that information to committee members, and he invited them to suggest their own amendments.