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Utah Senate passes bill to require fetal anesthesia before elective abortions

Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, speaks at the GOP Central Committee meeting at Salt Lake Community College Sandy Campus in Sandy on Saturday, June 22, 2013.
Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, speaks at the GOP Central Committee meeting at Salt Lake Community College Sandy Campus in Sandy on Saturday, June 22, 2013.
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Senate passed an amended bill Monday that would require Utah doctors to administer anesthesia to a fetus before an abortion based on the belief that the unborn child can feel pain.

The law would now only apply to elective abortions.

“If we’re going to forfeit the life of a child, we at least ought to have the humanity to protect them from pain," said Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo.

SB234 requires doctors to administer an anesthetic or analgesic to eliminate or alleviate "organic" pain in an abortion performed after 20 or more weeks of gestation.

Sen. Brian Shiozawa, R-Cottonwood Heights, called the proposed law cumbersome for the medical community and said it dictates how doctors and patients practice medicine. He said it mandates that anyone in a labor and delivery must have a general anesthesia.

His amendment to the bill excepts abortions necessary to avert the death or irreversible harm to the woman and where the fetus has a lethal defect diagnosed by two doctors who practice maternal fetal medicine.

A treating doctor and one other doctor could also opt to forgo an anesthetic or analgesic if it would cause the death of the woman, according to the bill.

The Senate passed the bill 20-3 along party lines. SB234 now moves to the House for consideration.

Planned Parenthood of Utah opposes the bill, saying it mandates medically unnecessary anesthesia and forces doctors to lie to patients.