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Utah Senate passes bill requiring burial or cremation of fetal remains

The Capitol in Salt Lake City is pictured on Friday, Jan. 25, 2019. Silas Walker, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Senate passed legislation Tuesday requiring burying or cremating fetal remains.

Bill sponsor Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, said SB67 would make sure medical providers treat fetal remains with “dignity” through either burial or cremation. The bill would also give the woman, whether she had a miscarriage or an abortion, a choice.

“She may ask that she receives those remains to have a memorial and burial. She may ask that they be cremated, she may ask they be buried or she may have no preference at all and may not weigh in on the issue,” Bramble said. “This bill provides those alternatives.”

During Monday’s reading of the bill, Bramble emphasized that the bill wouldn’t require the woman to make a choice if she didn’t want to.

Karrie Galloway, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Association of Utah, released a statement shortly after the vote, criticizing the legislation.

“This bill is part of a coordinated effort by anti-abortion activists who want to make all abortion illegal,” Galloway said. “Instead of intrusive mandates that threaten access to health care, lawmakers need to focus on respecting personal medical decisions and pass laws that actually support women, children and families.”

She emphasized that Planned Parenthood ensures that the disposal of “embryonic and fetal tissue is done safely, respectfully and according to state law.”

Senators approved the measure 22-6 without any debate, though, several explained their decision to vote against the bill.

Sen. Gene Davis, D-Salt Lake City, said he received an email from one of his constituents urging him to vote against the legislation. The woman had suffered four miscarriages before delivering her first child to full term.

“They were extremely painful both physically and emotionally,” Davis said. “Making a mother who has just lost her child decide on the disposal of the remains is exceedingly heartless.”

Sen. Kathleen Riebe, D-Cottonwood, who also explained her vote during Monday’s preliminary reading of the bill, said a miscarriage is an exceptionally hard thing to go through as a parent and the legislation seems “a little overreaching.”