Utah Abortion Bill: Punishing Miscarriages or Preventing Crime?

"It would never happen," Wimmer said, referring to accusations that women would be prosecuted for careless behavior. He believes the state's definition of "reckless" would protect women in those types of circumstances. "Reckless is behavior where you know that a threat exists, where you know that there's a risk, an unjustifiable risk."

Romero, who called Wimmer's bill "misguided," said the proposal misses a huge opportunity to react to the 17-year-old's hired beating, dealing with the mental health issues and other circumstances that led her to feel a planned assault was her best option.

"This doesn't really get to what's going on," he said. "Obviously the problem with that situation and with situations like that is the person needs counseling, needs intervention much more than they need incarceration or criminal penalties."

Jordan Goldberg, state advocacy counsel for the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights has been following the Utah bill since its inception.

"One of the biggest problems of the law is that it's criminalizing women's behavior during pregnancy," she said. "When you start down that path, it's very difficult to draw the line."

Proposed Bill Means Tighter Restrictions on Abortions in Utah

Romero said he also has serious concerns about the bill's underlying effect of allowing the state to put an even tighter rein on abortion rights. The proposal includes a new state definition of abortion as "only to a medical procedure carried out by a physician, or through a substance used under the direction of a physician."

"This type of attention on the woman, I think, may be part of this whole general assault on a woman's right to choose," he said.

It's a charge Wimmer calls a fair one.

"If he's insinuating because I ran this bill, because I'm pro-life and anti abortion and I'm doing everything in my power to restrict abortions in Utah, then he's absolutely correct," Wimmer said.

"The intent was to make sure that the cases like the Vernal situation does not happen again, and we also narrowly defined abortion to further restrict abortions even more than we already have," he said.

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