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Female state senators from both parties walk out of chamber as Utah Senate passes pro-life ultrasound bill

One Republican lawmaker criticized 'the invasive nature of the bill'

Jeff Overs/BBC News & Current Affairs via Getty Images

All six of Utah's female state senators walked out of the Senate chamber Tuesday as lawmakers passed a bill that would make getting an ultrasound a requirement before getting an abortion.

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, the women walked out in protest, leaving only the chamber's male members to vote on the bill, which passed 16-7:

Spanish Fork Republican Sen. Deidre Henderson successfully amended the bill to prohibit the use of transvaginal ultrasounds under the bill, a more invasive procedure than transabdominal ultrasounds. But while the bill went too far before the amendment, she said, the amendment resulted in the bill going "a little less too far."

Henderson and the other female senators, which included one other Republican, spoke in favor of the amendment and then exited the chamber as their names were called for a final vote on the bill, HB364.

"The six Republican and Democratic women of the Senate decided to walk out in protest," Henderson later said in a statement, according to KSTU-TV. "It wasn't planned, but a spontaneous decision to put an exclamation mark on our concerns regarding the invasive nature of the bill."

"I am very pro-life, and always vote for pro-life bills. But I'm concerned that we are overstepping with government mandates of medically unnecessary procedures."

Two of the Democratic legislators who walked out also posted about it on social media afterward.

"Love my sisters in the Senate," Sen. Luz Escamilla (D) wrote. "A spontaneous decision not planned of sisterhood against the invasive nature of HB 364."

"Thank you to these incredible women," Sen. Kathleen Reibe (D) tweeted. "Invasive and unnecessary medical procedures are never best practice."

An earlier version of the bill passed the Utah House last week by a vote of 47-20. In response to that passage, Planned Parenthood Action Council of Utah slammed the legislation as "yet another restriction in a long list of laws the Utah legislature has passed to chip away at the right to abortion," and added that it "could add trauma to an already complex and often difficult experience."

Contrary to the complaints about the bill, its proponents argue that the grave nature of abortion makes it necessary for women be properly informed before making the decision to end an unborn child's life.

"If you are going to take the life of a child, if you are willing to terminate that life through an abortion, it seems appropriate that you get the best information about the development — the stage of development, heart beat," Senate sponsor Curtis Bramble (R) told KSL-FM. "We are talking about a human being."

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