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Bill Expanding Contraceptive Choices For Low-Income Women Advances

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Austen Diamond / KUER
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The Utah House of Representatives.

A bill that would expand birth control options for low-income women in Utah advanced in the legislature today.

 

HB12 focuses on contraceptives. It would expand access to birth control options for women who are in the so-called Medicaid gap, those who make too much money to qualify for low-income insurance but can’t afford other health care plans.

 

The sponsor is Raymond Ward. He’s a doctor in addition to being a Republican Representative. He said the bill will save Utah money and should reduce about 2,000 abortions over five years. And, Ward says, this intervention – providing women with IUDs, shots or birth control pills – has proven best at increasing economic opportunities.

 

"When families are able to plan when to have their children [and] how to structure their family they are able to make their own decisions to make their lives turn out better economically," Ward said.

 

The only person to speak against the bill was Republican Representative Norm Thurston.

 

"This bill creates programs that have one goal in mind: prevent pregnancies in low-income women. Or in other words, to prevent low-income women from having babies," Thurston said.

Thurston compared it to historic examples of forced-sterilization among low-income women and suggested it’s unnecessary since many other forms of contraception are already available, including abstinence.

 

His points were challenged by Democratic Representative Angela Romero.

 

"This is not forced sterilization. This is a decision women make about their reproductive health," Romero said.

 

HB12 passed in the House 53 to 21. It now moves on to the Senate.

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