March 1, 2020

This week the Utah state Senate nearly unanimously passed legislation to expand access to birth control for lower-income Utahns. With just one dissenting vote, the Senate passed the bill requiring the state to apply for an automatic pre-approved federal Medicaid waiver to extend coverage of family planning services to people making up to 250% of the poverty level, or $62,750 for a family of four. That's about 10,000 people, all told.

"This is an opportunity for the state of Utah to be proactive in health policy for average Utah families, empowering them to have control over their lives and make better, educated decisions," the Democratic sponsor of the bill, Sen. Derek Kitchen, said. According to the information he used in crafting the bill, it would "likely prevent about 2,100 unintended pregnancies, up to 730 abortions, and 410 miscarriages following unintended pregnancies." The bill built on an effort by a Utah House Republican, Rep. Raymond Ward, to expand Medicaid coverage. With just one dissenting vote in the Senate and a Republican House sponsor, there's clearly bipartisan support.

But there's also typical Republican politics, which includes efforts by Republicans to ban most abortions in the state, among other forced-birther heinous creations, most of which a huge majority of Utahns are opposed to—80% say further restrictions aren't necessary, according to state polling by the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah, the Alliance for a Better Utah and the ACLU of Utah.

Utah's passed more than 30 restrictions to abortion since it was legalized by Roe v. Wade, including a 72-hour waiting period and state-directed counseling. Which could be a factor in the now-nearly universal recognition that the state needs to make birth control more widely available. But the key takeaway here remains that 52% of deep-red Utah supports legal abortion under Roe and majorities "support sex education in schools and state-funded reproductive health services for low-income Utahns, including birth control and family planning."

Again, in Utah.

Republished with permission from Daily Kos.

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