Utah abortion ban on hold as judge grants preliminary injunction

Jul 11, 2022, 2:28 PM | Updated: 8:16 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s near-total abortion ban is still on pause after a judge ruled in favor of Planned Parenthood on Monday.

The ruling from 3rd District Judge Andrew Stone grants a preliminary injunction, which means SB174, also known as Utah’s abortion “trigger law,” will remain paused while the case makes its way through the court system.

Stone had previously granted a temporary order taking the law off the book for 14 days. That 14-day period ended Monday.

The Utah Legislature passed SB174 in 2020. The law 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 trigger law automatically went into effect after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the landmark abortion rights case Roe v. Wade on June 24.

In the lawsuit filed late last month, Planned Parenthood said the law violates the Utah Constitution, which “serves as an independent source of rights for Utahns.”

The lawsuit also claimed the Utah Constitution requires the state to allow abortion at any point during pregnancy.

Utah Dept. of Health’s Office of Vital Records and Stats notes there were 2,776 total abortions in the state in 2019.

Under the trigger law, only 14 of those 2019 abortions would have been legal. Any abortions related to incest were not in the 2019 data.

Utah, in its response to Planned Parenthood’s request for a preliminary injunction, argued SB174 aligns with the Utah Constitution, which recognizes rights for unborn children.

“The Utah Constitution does not expressly protect a right to abortion. That much is clear from the Constitution’s plain text,” the filing says. “Nor does the Utah Constitution protect an implied right to abortion.”

Planned Parenthood Association of Utah’s Kerrie Calloway held a press conference soon after the ruling, saying that “Independence Day came a week late. It was an amazing hearing.”

She praised Judge Stone’s decision to keep these issues integrated for bodily autonomy for all Utahns.

Pro-Life Utah also responded to the ruling, saying, “We are horrified by today’s granted injunction. The irreparable harm to unborn babies was completely ignored.”

In a statement, the group said, “Thousands of babies would have been protected had the law been allowed to go into effect, but will now be killed as a result of this decision while we wait for the case to be litigated.”

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Utah abortion ban on hold as judge grants preliminary injunction