From: Ellen Brady
To: Ellen Brady,
Subject: Curtis Oda's HB442
Date: Thu Feb 25 20:26:11 MST 2016

Dear Representative:

As a woman and as a physician I cannot begin to tell you how appalled and outraged I am by Rep Curtis Oda’s bill (HB 442). Packaged as an effort to prevent ‘fetal dismemberment’ it in effect bans all types of surgical abortion procedures regardless of gestational age. It furthermore subjects women undergoing abortion procedures to civil damages and the physicians who perform those procedures to 3rd degree felony charges. They can be cleared of those charges if a court deems retrospectively that the procedure was necessary to save the life of the woman. Just wow.

Several brief points:

·         SCOTUS has repeatedly upheld the right of women to undergo abortion procedures up to the age of fetal viability. This law clearly flies in the face of those rulings and is therefore unconstitutional.

·         This law inserts (not so) small government into the bodies of half the population and attempts to replace governmental judgments with trained medical judgment—in fact criminalizes it. Your own legal review makes it clear that this law will be viewed by the courts as unconstitutional.

·         This legislature just defeated a bill that would have served to reduce the need for abortion by providing our kids the option of comprehensive sex education. Unbridled hypocrisy at epic levels, as over half of abortions are necessitated by failure to use contraception and over 70% of teen births are unplanned.

·         Partial birth abortions are only used in the later stages of pregnancy. In Utah last year there were only 17 of those. And as is usually the case, those were necessitated by the types of scenarios where a woman’s right to make her own decisions are the most important—that is her life and well-being are at risk or the fetus is severely malformed. This law does not even protect the rights of the woman in cases of rape. In a state where one in three women have been victims of sexual abuse or assault, this is again just unconscionable. I would also note that this legislative body is working to make it harder for children and teens to get the information they need in order to protect themselves against abuse and assault. Again the epitome of hypocrisy.

·         Decisions to abort are based on widely varied circumstances and very much need to remain the personal decision of the woman. Her free agency is her most valuable asset and should not be taken away. While we all value the potential for life represented by a fertilized egg, zygote, embryo, and fetus, it is still totally dependent on the woman’s body until birth. Accordingly the well being of the adult woman and her existing family should take priority.

·         The demographics of those who seek abortion are varied, making it difficult to demonize any one segment of the population.  At current rates, about one in three American women will have had an abortion by the time she reaches age 45. Moreover, a broad cross section of U.S. women have abortions. 58% of women having abortions are in their 20s; 61% have one or more children; 85% are unmarried; 69% are economically disadvantaged; and 73% report a religious affiliation. No racial or ethnic group makes up a majority: 36% of women obtaining abortions are white non-Hispanic, 30% are black non-Hispanic, 25% are Hispanic and 9% are of other racial backgrounds. Contraceptive use is a key predictor of women's recourse to abortion. The very small group of American women who are at risk of experiencing an unintended pregnancy but are not using contraceptives account for more than half of all abortions.

·         In 2011, 97% of Utah counties had no abortion providers and 63% of Utah’s population lived in those counties. The situation has worsened since then and this will have an even greater chilling effect .   

·         Surgical abortions are medically far safer than continuing pregnancy and childbirth. The risk of death from the latter is 11 times higher than from early term abortion . The following link also provides a brief factual overview of early term abortion options.

Again, I would urge you in the strongest possible terms to reject this effort to take away the right to bodily autonomy from half of Utah’s population while pretending that the legislature is an appropriate substitute for the judgment of a woman and her physician.


Ellen Brady, MD, MPH