Court Delays Implementation of Utah Abortion Ban

( – Utah’s total ban on abortion clinics is on hold as of May 3rd after a state court blocked its implementation.

Judge Andrew Stone will allow the four in-state abortion clinics to continue to operate as he deliberates the claims of the plaintiff, Planned Parenthood, against the state’s goals. In his ruling, Stone said the legislature’s intent with the abortion-clinic ban was “nebulous.”

Utah’s ban on abortion clinics would mean, in practice, that all abortions would have to be performed in full-service hospitals. The ban was set to take effect on May 3rd before the court injunction stopped it. The law would prevent new abortion clinics from getting state licenses and would de-license the remaining four abortion clinics by 2024.

Other states including West Virginia, Mississippi, and West Virginia have already eliminated abortion clinics. 

Such laws became possible in 2022 when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned its earlier 1973 decision in Roe vs Wade. That 1973 decision barred states from banning abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy and set up a schedule based on trimesters that states would have to follow when enacting additional restrictions. 

Though abortion proponents claimed the overturning of Roe “took away women’s rights,” the decision did not rule on the legality of abortion. The new decision only overturned the old one, returning control of abortion regulation to the states, as it had been prior to 1973. 

Many conservative states had abortion bans or near-bans called “trigger laws” at the ready in anticipation of Roe’s demise. Utah’s ban on abortion clinics is one example. 

The plaintiff in the Utah case, Planned Parenthood, said the clinic ban amounted to an actual ban on abortion since 95 percent of abortions occurred in clinics, not hospitals. Planned Parenthood also argued that hospitals can’t offer affordable outpatient treatment the way clinics can.

The organization also claimed Utah lawmakers and the Governor, Spencer Cox, enacted the law to get around the court system while the courts are busy considering other state abortion restrictions. 

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