News Abortion

Utah Legislator Willing to Give Up “Gender-Based Abortion” Ban, But Wants Increased “Information Collection”

Robin Marty

One Utah legislator has decided to give up her quest to ban abortions allegedly based on the gender of the fetus.

State Senator Margaret Dayton has been working since the summer on her bill that would ban so-called gender-selection abortion in the state of Utah. Now, as the session is finally beginning, she’s decided that the ban may not be necessary at all.

However, just because she is giving up on her ban doesn’t mean she’s just going to leave everything in the state as it is. Instead, she will propose as bill that will provide more tracking of abortions, such as who is receiving them, how many are done, and at what gestational age. 

Via the Daily Herald:

“I had requests from several legislators that we get all the data and keep it in state and then we will address other issues,” Dayton explained.

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Dayton said the data is collected on a federal level but there are concerns that the reports will not produce the numbers Utah is seeking. She went on to explain that this bill will allow the state to gather the numbers to help policymakers when creating abortion legislation.

“Right now the focus is on the information,” she said.

Sen. Dayton has amended SB 60 to require “the race and ethnicity of the women on whom the abortions were performed.” Perhaps a race-based abortion ban is still on her radar?

News Politics

Democrats in Utah, Colorado Make History as First Openly Transgender Women to Win Congressional Primaries

Ally Boguhn

Though Misty Snow's win may be historic for LGBTQ equality, she has previously noted that it was not the reason she is running for office."I'm not running because I'm transgender. I just happen to be transgender," the Utah candidate said.

Voters in Utah and Colorado made history Tuesday after nominating Democrats Misty Snow and Misty Plowright to run for Congress in their respective states—making them the first openly transgender women to win a major party’s congressional primary nomination.

Misty Snow, according to the bio listed on her campaign’s website, is a 30-year-old grocery store cashier from Salt Lake County, Utah, “concerned by the degree of income inequality in this country: particularly how it disproportionately impacts women, people of color, and the LGBT community.” Among the many issues prioritized on her website are paid maternity leave, a $15 minimum wage, and anti-choice regulations that “restrict a woman’s right to having a safe and legal abortion as well as any attempts to undermine a woman’s access to important health services.”

Though her win may be historic for LGBTQ equality, she has previously noted that it was not the reason she is running for office. “I’m not running because I’m transgender. I just happen to be transgender,” she told the Salt Lake Tribune in May. In later statement to the publication, however, Snow acknowledged that “a lot of people have told me whether I win or lose, I’m already making a difference just by running.”

Snow ran opposite Democrat Jonathan Swinton in Utah, having filed to run for office just before the March 17 deadline. Snow decided to run after Swinton, who was running for the Democratic ticket unopposed, penned an op-ed in September arguing that Planned Parenthood should be investigated—though the government should not be shut down over it. After reading the op-ed and thinking it over for several months, Snow told the Tribune she began to think the people of Colorado deserved a more liberal option and thought, “Why not me?”

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Snow’s win means she will move on to run against incumbent conservative Sen. Mike Lee. As previously reported by Rewire, Lee is stringently anti-abortion and has consistently pushed measures “attempting to limit access to or outright ban abortion.”

Misty Plowright, who is running to represent Colorado’s 5th congressional district, describes herself as an “Army veteran, a self-educated woman, a member of the LGBTQ+ community, and a passionate social democrat,” according to her campaign’s website. An IT worker from Colorado Springs, Plowright billed herself as the “anti-politician” during an interview with the Colorado Springs Gazette, and is running on a platform that includes campaign finance reform and defending voting rights.

Plowright will now challenge incumbent Rep. Doug Lamborn (R) for his seat in the House.

Plowright congratulated Snow in her win in a Wednesday post to her campaign’s Facebook page. “Congratulations from ‪#‎TeamMisty‬ to another progressive candidate in Utah, Misty K Snow,” wrote Plowright’s campaign. “Both women made history last night by winning their Democratic Primary.”

As Slate reported, though the candidates may have both won their primary races, “Snow and Plowright face uphill battles in the coming months”:

Despite a Gallup survey from March 2015 that calculated Salt Lake City’s LGBTQ population as the seventh-highest in the nation, Lee leads Snow 51 percent to 37 percent among likely general election voters according to a poll commissioned by the Salt Lake Tribune and the Hinckley Institute of Politics in early June. And Lamborn, who has represented Colorado’s heavily conservative fifth district since 2007, took nearly 60 percent of the vote in his most recent reelection fight.

Commentary Abortion

Utah Anti-Choice Law Forces Women to Pay for a Procedure That Risks Their Health

Maggie Jo Poertner Buchanan

Many anti-choice policies flout established medical standards, disrupt a woman's ability to seek and act on counsel from her trusted health-care provider, and make accessing abortion care more expensive. But one bill recently signed into law in Utah, SB 234, managed to encapsulate a number of troubling harms.

In the more than four decades since the U.S. Supreme Court recognized a woman’s constitutional right to end a pregnancy, states have enacted well over 1,000 abortion restrictions. Anti-choice forces are gaining ground: More than one-fourth of those restrictions were passed in the last five years. Last year alone, 17 states enacted 57 new laws limiting reproductive choice.

Many of these policies flout established medical standards, disrupt a woman’s ability to seek and act on counsel from her trusted health-care provider, and make accessing abortion care more expensive. But one bill recently signed into law in Utah, SB 234, managed to encapsulate a number of troubling harms. SB 234 requires women, with only very narrow exceptions, to undergo anesthesia if they choose abortion care after the approximate midway point of pregnancy. While only a small number of patients seek such care, at least one physician has noted that the law could also apply to women seeking to induce labor—an undoubtedly unintended consequence. And the women themselves may have to pay out-of-pocket for the anesthesia, which could cost them thousands of dollars.

To be clear, anesthesia is already sometimes used during abortion care for a variety of reasons, individual to the patient. But the type of anesthesia used is often local or regional, meaning the patient remains alert because only a portion of her body is affected. However, because of how the Utah law is written, physicians will likely be required to administer general anesthesia: the type that affects both a patient’s brain and total body, rendering the woman unconscious.

General anesthesia, while generally safe for much of the population, does not come without risk of complications, including stroke, heart attack, and even death. Previously, Utah required providers to tell a woman she had the option to undergo anesthesia when ending a pregnancy. Some women may very well choose anesthesia for their own reasons. But Utah’s new mandate forces women to put their health, and even lives, in harm’s way for no stated medical benefit to them.

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Notably, the text of SB 234 also struck a requirement that a woman’s doctor inform her of these risks as she decides whether to use anesthesia. There is a perverse logic in eliminating this requirement—the patient can no longer decide if those risks would keep her from undergoing anesthesia—but it highlights how the state has placed itself between patient and provider. No longer can a woman have a meaningful, open dialogue with a provider she trusts on the pros and cons of a medical procedure; the decision has been made for both doctor and patient by the state.

Further, abortion care, for which Utah prohibits almost all private and public insurance coverage, can be difficult for many to afford. Requiring general anesthesia, which can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars when not covered by insurance, makes the door to access safe abortion care even more difficult to open, if not entirely impossible. The bill provides no guidance on how the cost of the mandated anesthesia will be covered. This new restriction, like so many others, falls hardest on low-income women and families.

To add further insult to injury, the author of SB 234 is trained as an accountant. He admitted during debate over the bill that he didn’t know what drugs, exactly, his legislation would require doctors to force on women if they choose abortion care. Instead, he said his concern was over the idea that a fetus may be able to feel pain at this point in a pregnancy—something no reputable medical organization has found to be the case.

Anti-choice politicians and advocates have a long history of political interference when it comes to a woman’s own health care decisions. For years, states like Ohio prohibited providers from following the most up-to-date, evidence-based standards for medication abortion. And despite a recent FDA opinion clarifying these best practices, some states are still pushing the outdated requirements. Other states, such as Wisconsin, force providers to show and describe a medically unnecessary ultrasound image to most women before abortion care, even over her objection. In more than a dozen states, women are forced to undergo “counseling” that necessitates two trips to a clinic in order to end a pregnancy—not only driving up the cost of care, but also insinuating that women aren’t capable of making an informed decision without the government’s interference.

Utah’s new law, however, may be the first time a state renders a doctor’s advice moot while also forcing a woman to pay significantly for something that increases risks to her health.