House Democrats Support Freedom of Choice by Voting Against HB205

Media Statement

For Immediate Release: January 25, 2018

Contact:    
Ross Chambless, Communications Specialist
Utah House Democratic Caucus
(801) 326-1568 | rosschambless@le.utah.gov

House Democrats Support Freedom of Choice by Voting Against HB205

Salt Lake City
– This afternoon House Democrats voted against passing HB205 from the House Judiciary Standing Committee. The bill, Down Syndrome Nondiscrimination Abortion Act, would restrict medical doctors in Utah from performing abortions when a woman seeks the procedure due to a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome.

House Minority Leader Brian King stated, “I am disheartened by the degree to which so many of our legislative colleagues seem to believe that government should be free to intrude on the most personal and private medical decisions women can make. It is inappropriate for the government to impose on women the moral and ideological values of a group of legislators who think they know better than the people directly involved. This bill is inconsistent with a legislative agenda that values personal choice and freedom for individuals in the state.” 

Representative Mark Wheatley said, “Our friends and family with Down syndrome are indeed inspiring and integral to our community. We also do not wish to enable a culture of discrimination.  Of course, we want nothing but the best for our children with Down syndrome.  However, this bill fails to adequately address these concerns of discrimination. We should never force anyone to become a parent against their will. These decisions should be made through conversations between patients and medical professionals. I believe that it is not up to state legislators to make those decisions.”

HB205 is especially problematic as research has shown that unintended pregnancy, unintended births, abortion, and teen pregnancies all occur more frequently among low socioeconomic status and minority women. As legislators, we should be focused on funding essential programs that provide family planning services to these women. These services help to prevent unintended pregnancy in the first place and have been shown to reduce abortion rates.

Legislative general council has indicated that HB205 is extremely legally problematic and very likely unconstitutional. A similar version of this bill in Indiana was overturned by a Federal judge, and other states that have passed similar bills are, or will face legal challenges. Creating such legislation would be fiscally irresponsible as the state would likely face waves of lawsuits in opposition. 

House Democrats are committed to fighting this unconstitutional bill and similar legislation.

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