Utah ‘trigger law’ banning abortion to go into effect after Roe v. Wade overturned

Jun 24, 2022, 9:16 AM | Updated: 1:31 pm

The Utah Capitol. (KSL-TV)...

The Utah Capitol. (KSL-TV)


SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah law prohibiting almost all abortions will now go into effect after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on Friday.

SB174, which the Utah Legislature passed in 2020, bans abortions except in cases of rape or incest, situations where the life of the mother is at risk, and situations where two doctors determine the fetus “has a defect that is uniformly diagnosable and uniformly lethal or … has a severe brain abnormality that is uniformly diagnosable.”

“The Supreme Court pronouncement is clear. It has returned the question of abortion to the states,” Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes said. ”And the Utah legislature has answered that question. My office will do its duty to defend the state law against any and all potential legal challenges.”

On Friday, Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court ruling that found the U.S. Constitution protected a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy prior to the viability of the fetus nearly 50 years ago, was overturned by a 6-3 decision.

The ruling came more than a month after the leak of a draft opinion by Justice Samuel Alito indicating the court was prepared to take this momentous step.

Poll: 46% of Utahns say abortion should only be legal in cases of rape, incest, threats to mothers’ health

According to the Associated Press, 12 other states, mainly in the South and Midwest, already have laws on the books that ban abortion in the event Roe is overturned. Another half-dozen states have near-total bans or prohibitions after six weeks of pregnancy, before many women know they are pregnant.

Sen. Dan McCay, a Republican representing Riverton, who sponsored the bill to create Utah’s trigger law in 2020, told the Deseret News the exemptions may need to be tweaked, but he isn’t aware of a widespread movement to roll them back.

McCay said lawmakers may need to clarify if there should be a limitation on how late into a pregnancy an abortion would be allowed if the mother’s health is jeopardized, or whether there needs to be a clearer definition of rape and incest and if a case would need to be “fully adjudicated as rape.”

‘It was hastily passed’: Medical, legal experts raise concerns about Utah’s abortion trigger law

Utah leaders react after Roe v. Wade overturned

Gov. Spencer Cox and Lt. Gov. Diedre Henderson released a statement saying they “wholeheartedly support” the Supreme Court’s decision.

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall said the decision was “infuriating, devastating news.”

“This decision by the Supreme Court will have devastating consequences nationwide, particularly for women of color and low-income women,” Mendenhall tweeted. “I’m sad that women’s health is unnecessarily at risk. I’m angry that the Court has overturned this precedent that has saved lives and protected individual freedom. My heart is with every woman in Salt Lake City today. This is a giant step backwards for Americans.”

Salt Lake County Major Jenny Wilson said she is “heartsick, but not surprised, by the ruling of the Supreme Court today.”

“I never imagined I would see a roll-back of women’s reproductive rights in my lifetime,” she said.

Sen. Mike Lee said that “the national nightmare of Roe has ended” with the Supreme Court’s decision.

“While the 63 million lives lost to abortion since Roe can never be reclaimed, we can take heart that the Supreme Court has recognized that Roe v. Wade and its progeny belong next to Plessy v. Ferguson and Dred Scott v. Sandford in the anticanon of Supreme Court history. I have never been prouder to have clerked for Justice Alito or the Supreme Court of the United States,” Lee said. “I pray for national unity and for the safety of the justices of the Supreme Court who, in regard to this case, have faced unprecedented attacks. I thank God that the people of Utah and the United States are now free to enact protections for life and human dignity.”

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Utah ‘trigger law’ banning abortion to go into effect after Roe v. Wade overturned