Michael A. Kruse
Capital West News
SALT LAKE CITY — A Draper Republican wants to restrict the tattooing of those under age 18, even if they have a parent’s permission.
Rep. LaVar Christensen, R-Draper, presented HB143 before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, Feb. 10. The bill would make it illegal to tattoo minors even with parental consent. The bill also provides court action against artists who tattoo minors to be held liable for the removal costs.
Christensen said seeing a few young children in strollers with tattoos caused him to question whether Utah’s current policy of allowing with consent of the parent was good public policy,
Ryan Bouman, a tattoo Artist in Ogden says he doesn’t tattoo minors even with parental consent. Bouman, who has been in the industry for eight years says tattooing minors is too risky. He mentioned divorced couples where one parent allows it, and then he has to deal with complaints from the other parent.
“If I would of got every tattoo I wanted before I was 18, I would have some stupid stuff on me,” Bouman said. Bouman said that he has heard of parents of tattoo young children and it makes “sick to his stomach’ every time he sees it.
Bouman said as far as being held liable for removal, he could see the concern but it becomes and law and it known that it’s a possible consequence for tattooing a minor then it shouldn’t be an issue.
Josh Betton, who works at the same shop as Bouman echoed that he also doesn’t tattoo minors. He expressed a concern about if it’s restricted, minors will turn to getting them done by friends.
“My first tattoo was a home tattoo at 15 and it was a disaster, “ Betton said. Evenso, he supports the bill.
Aldo Tarvaers testified to the committee that he was against the bill. Tarvaers said he didn’t think getting a tattoo was a good idea, however, he doesn’t think the government should be in the business of telling parents how to raise their kids. Tarvaers also questioned why the bill limits to tattoos and not other forms of body modification.
Mary Mcmorick of the Utah Medical Association spoke for the bill saying minors who get tattoos with or without their parents permission put themselves up for risk of permanent scaring and psychological problems. She said it is best to let people make the decisions once they are 18.
Rep. Brian Greene, R-Pleasant Grove, brought up that many invasive medical procedures are currently done with the parental consent. Greene said that most have much more graver consequences than a permanent marking on your body.
Christensen responded the difference is that medical procedures need to be decided in the moment, while people can wait to have a tattoo. He also said that the state has laws against abuse or neglect.
“We don’t let people do whatever they want to their kids,” he
Greene also questioned religious beliefs that may require tattooing and specifically mentioned certain Polynesian cultures that embrace tattoos. Greene said he would like to see a religious exemption worked into the bill.
Christensen said he was open to amending the bill to allow for religious exemptions. The ccommittee unanimously placed the bill on hold in order to give Christensen a chance to revise the bill and for members to look into what other states have done with tattoo laws.