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Utah Senate Committee Advances Fetal Anesthesia Bill

A Utah state Senate committee has approved a bill that would require doctors to administer anesthesia to women receiving an abortion after 20 weeks of gestation.

Monday's vote sends the proposal before the full Senate.

Utah law currently gives women the choice to have anesthesia for the fetus to reduce potential pain during the abortion. Anesthesia would be mandatory under the legislation sponsored by Republican Sen. Curt Bramble.

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Bramble says he initially sought to ban abortions after 20 weeks entirely, but he changed course after legal experts warned him that any such measure would likely be unconstitutional.

He says this bill focuses on reducing pain for the fetus.

The legislation says "substantial medical evidence" shows a 20-week-old fetus is capable of experiencing pain. But medical experts and physicians say those claims are unfounded.