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‘Dignified’ disposition of fetal remains gets initial nod in Utah Senate

SHARE ‘Dignified’ disposition of fetal remains gets initial nod in Utah Senate
The Utah State Capitol on the opening day of the Utah State Legislature Monday, Jan. 23, 2012.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — The Senate voted along party lines Monday to give preliminary approval to a bill dealing with burying or cremating fetal remains.

SB67, sponsored by Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, still needs another vote in the Senate before the bill can be considered by the House. Monday’s vote was 21-6, with all Democratic senators voting against the legislation.

Bramble said the bill would require medical providers to either bury or cremate fetal remains following a woman’s miscarriage or abortion, and gives the woman the chance to decide how she wants the remains to be disposed of, an “additional choice.”

He said that the woman would not be required to make that decision.

“If you believe that an unborn child is a human being, then when that life is terminated, dealing with the remains is important,” Bramble said.

He said the bill would require a medical facility to treat the remains with “dignity” within 120 days and clarified that it could be done simultaneously.

“Right now unborn fetus are thrown out like rubbish. They are thrown out with the medical waste,” Bramble said. “If that unborn child is worthy of protection, if their life is worthy of protection — which I believe that it is — then when that life is terminated it should be treated with respect.”

Last week, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee voted 4-2 to send the legislation on following an emotional debate.

Monday’s Senate debate was less emotional, but Sen. Kathleen Riebe, D-Cottonwood Heights, did mention her own miscarriage while explaining her decision to vote against the bill.

“These are some hard questions and touching conversations. I understand the pain and suffering those people go through, I also had a miscarriage,” Riebe said. “As we talk about the sanctity of life I hope that we remember that we have an obligation to take care of all of the kids in our care. I’m going to vote no on this because I think we have to remember that this is not just about babies that aren’t born yet, but also the babies that we have on this planet.”

Following the floor debate, Lauren Simpson, policy director for Alliance for a Better Utah, said the organization supports women who’ve had a miscarriage or abortion to choose whatever is right for them following the experience.

However, “this bill is not about supporting patients. It removes choices currently available to women and instead imposes an ideological mandate on a deeply personal experience,” Simpson said. “The true purpose of this bill is to chip away at women’s reproductive rights.”