Utah Republican proposes state bill requiring watching video before abortion

Utah Republican proposes state bill requiring watching video before abortion
© Stefani Reynolds

A Utah Republican lawmaker proposed a bill in the state House of Representatives on Wednesday that would require women to watch a video that includes ultrasounds of a developing fetus before undergoing an abortion. 

State Rep. Steve Christiansen (R) introduced a bill in the Utah House that would mandate women to sign a document in front of a health care witness saying they’ve watched the Utah Department of Health video, under the penalty of perjury, before an abortion procedure. 

The video would show at least 10 seconds of a fetus at six weeks, eight weeks, 10 weeks, 12 weeks, 16 weeks and 20 weeks along with its heartbeat. 

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The bill would expand the current requirements in Utah that a woman has to view an informational module from the state health department and provide proof that she did so to her doctor, Deseret News reported.

The abortion provider would also be required to communicate the potential side effects and risk of an abortion to the patient. Health care providers who do not obtain the signed document could pay $50,000 per incident. 

The fine would not be imposed if physicians could prove that the video “would have resulted in a severely adverse effect on the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman.” 

It also exempts doctors if they provide evidence that the abortion is necessary to prevent the death or “substantial and irreversible impairment” of the woman, that the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest, or that the patient is 14 years old or younger.

Under the legislation, the state health department would have to adjust its video to prevent people from skipping or fast-forwarding through it. In his interview with Deseret News, Christiansen acknowledged that viewers can turn the volume off or leave the room.

“But we’re just trying to make sure that that information module — which is really important in terms of helping women understand what is about to happen depending on what decision she makes — just make sure she gets the information she needs to make that critical decision,” the lawmaker told Deseret News.

Women’s rights advocates slammed the bill, with Karrie Galloway, the CEO of Planned Parenthood Association of Utah, asserting that more restrictions instead of resources will not help reduce abortions.

“What would help women would be assistance with family planning medical services, the cost of contraception and better sexuality education, not Rep. Christiansen showing photographs that he chooses,” Galloway told Deseret News.