Utah bans abortions after 18 weeks, teeing up legal showdown

FILE - Utah Gov. Gary Herbert delivers his State of the State address at the Utah State Capitol, Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019, in Salt Lake City. (Spenser Heaps/The Deseret News via AP, Pool)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah Gov. Gary Herbert has signed a law banning most abortions after 18 weeks of gestation, setting the stage for a legal showdown.

Though the Republican governor said the measure signed late Monday strikes a balance, opponents said it is unconstitutional and promised to sue. The law is expected to take effect in May.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Utah pointed to the U.S. Supreme Court’s longtime holding that states cannot ban abortion before the fetus is viable outside the womb, usually at about 23 weeks.

The ban adds to a long list of abortion restrictions in Utah, including a 72-hour waiting period and an in-person informed consent session, Planned Parenthood of Utah said.

“This 18-week ban is clearly unconstitutional and part of a broader agenda to ban abortion one law at a time,” president Karrie Galloway said in a statement.

The law comes as abortion opponents across the country are emboldened by President Donald Trump’s appointment of conservative U.S. Supreme Court justices and seek cases to challenge Roe v. Wade, the court’s 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide.

Republican Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has also signed an 18-week ban, and several other states have considered or passed proposals to ban abortion much earlier, once a fetal heartbeat can be found.

In Utah, Herbert’s spokesman Paul Edwards said he’s against abortion, and believes lawmakers set an appropriate threshold for respecting a woman’s right to choose while “protecting the unborn.”

The measure allows some exceptions, including cases of rape, fatal fetal deformity or serious detriment to the mother’s health.

Herbert has said he is not worried about the potential cost of a lawsuit, estimated at about $2 million if the state loses.

The sponsor of the measure, Republican Rep. Cheryl Acton, has said she sponsored it to reduce the number of second-trimester abortions that “shock the conscience.”

Herbert also signed into law this year a measure banning abortion if the only reason is a fetal diagnosis of Down syndrome. The law contains a so-called trigger clause and wouldn’t go into effect unless a similar measure is upheld elsewhere.

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1 Comment

  • Warren s Pugh March 26, 2019 at 9:27 pm Reply

    CVD, I sure am saddened to hear the ACLU is strapped for cash. Of what is Ms. Galloway president? Wife says she is PPs CEO. So PP is at it again defending their right to butcher babies clear up to full term in at least two states to boot. Suppose the baby moves and the PP butcher accidentally cuts themselves? Obviously women have a right to do with their bodies as they wish. Suggesting anything to the contrary is pure hyperbole and an outright lie designed to arouse sympathy for those poor folks at PP. Proof is in the bloody pudding. It makes little sense to even junior high kids to so freely abort when families are looking for babies.

    Former surgeon general Edward Koop said he had not a loss in 30,000 deliveries. Dr.Jose Vargas Bozo of Roseburg, OR had the same experience in 10,000. Exceptions that could threaten a mothers life represent less than one percent. The whining of which women are guilty is that they have a right to do with their bodies as they wish as previously mentioned.
    The three million or so PP has carved up are proof these women have done as they planned. My feeling is that you may obtain your abortion any time you wish until
    I am required to pay for it. Right at that moment you are mine, a 21st century indentured servant.

    Protect, educate yourselves and pay your own bills.

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