Lawmaker Considers Creating Bill To Define Moment Life Begins
by Andrew Adams
February 3, 2012
SALT LAKE CITY — When does life begin? At fertilization? Conception? Viability?
A Utah lawmaker is mulling the possibility of legislation to define that moment, though the measure's future grew cloudier Thursday amid activists' concerns and reporters' questions.
"This is an opportunity to open some dialogue on this topic," Sen. Aaron Osmond, R-South Jordan, told reporters. Although, he declined to say where legislation might draw the line on life, or whether he was working toward a non-binding resolution, a constitutional amendment or nothing at all.
Before he took questions, Osmond apologized to his colleagues.
"First of all, I think it's appropriate for me to start this conversation by apologizing to the Legislature that this issue has become a distraction, frankly, from the focus of what we're doing here," he said.
Osmond said he had been approached and engaged on the issue by constituents. He didn't disclose who the constituents were.
Utah Eagle Forum president Gayle Ruzicka said the topic came up at a meeting of the Utah Family Action Council.
"He's the vice chairman of the coalition, so he was in the meeting anyway when it came up, and he was asked if he'd be willing to do that, and he said he'd be. Like I said, we're looking. We're not saying we're going to do it," Ruzicka said.
Ruzicka suggested a measure could come up this session, next year or perhaps never. She had a clearer idea of what she'd like it to be.
"It'll just be a constitutional amendment that says in Utah we believe that life begins at conception," Ruzicka said.
In vitro fertilization ... would be called into question (if the bill passed). Birth control can be called into question, depending on how the initiative is written. Life-saving medical interventions can be called into question. It's a far-ranging issue that we're bringing up. –Karrie Galloway, Planned Parenthood of Utah
That possibility is already sounding alarms at places like Planned Parenthood of Utah. Director Karrie Galloway said the consequences of such a measure could include litigation, and would reach far beyond abortion.
"In vitro fertilization — and we have a strong program in Utah for assisting families and creating families when they need medical help — that would be called into question," Galloway observed. "Birth control can be called into question, depending on how the initiative is written. Life-saving medical interventions can be called into question. It's a far-ranging issue that we're bringing up."
Galloway said she hoped to meet with Osmond next week and explain the broadness and impact of the issue.
At the Legislature, senate leaders defended their freshman senator and the process.
"I think we have to give him credit as being one that's open to new ideas and one that's open to collecting information and one that's responsive to the public," said Senate President Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville.