A bill requiring that medical providers bury or cremate an aborted or miscarried fetus passed a Utah Senate committee Friday.
Under the bill, medical providers would first have to ask people who have had an abortion or miscarriage if they would like the fetus to be buried or cremated. If the person does not want to choose, the medical facility would be prohibited from disposing of the fetus with medical waste, and would either have to bury or cremate it themselves.
“Without this bill there is no legal right that a woman would have to make that choice,” said Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, the bill’s sponsor. “There may be healthcare providers that are offering that today but when they offer that what can the woman legally do with those remains still remains a question.”
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a similar Indiana law in May, paving the way for other states to pass fetal remains bills. One passed Pennsylvania’s House in November.
Critics of Utah’s bill argued Friday that asking someone who has just had a miscarriage or abortion about burying or cremating the fetus would make a traumatic situation even more agonizing.
Liz Miller, a Salt Lake County resident, testified during the hearing that she has had two miscarriages.
“Shortly afterwards, I fell into a deep situational depression which I remember vividly to this day,” Miller said. “I cannot fathom the enormous insult to an already unbearable trauma [that] forcing a discussion regarding disposal would cause.”
Miller added that you can still ask your doctor about burial or cremation if you choose.
But proponents argued that oftentimes, it may not occur to someone to ask until after they’ve left the medical facility. That’s what happened to Deanna Holland, the vice president of Pro-Life Utah, after she had a miscarriage.
“[My doctor] removed my baby, which had been stuck in the birth canal, and disposed of my baby with the medical waste,” Holland said. “I was actually so distressed that it was a few hours before I realized that my child had been disposed of in this manner. By that time there was nothing I could do.”
The bill passed the Senate Health and Human Services Committee 4-2 in a party line vote.
Sonja Hutson covers politics for KUER. Follow her on Twitter @SonjaHutson