Utah Supreme Court allows halt on abortion ‘trigger law’ to remain in place

Oct 14, 2022, 7:26 PM | Updated: Nov 19, 2022, 12:25 am
Utah's abortion ban was again blocked from going into effect after the state Supreme Court said it ...
Utah's abortion ban was again blocked from going into effect after the state Supreme Court said it would let the injunction remain in place while state appeals lower court's decision. (Spenser Heaps/Deseret News)
(Spenser Heaps/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s abortion ban was again blocked from going into effect after the state Supreme Court said it would let a lower court’s injunction remain in place.

In an order issued Oct. 3, the state’s highest court said it would not halt the injunction — but court justices are allowing the state to appeal the 3rd District Court judge’s decision that halted enforcement of Utah’s abortion trigger law, pending a resolution to the lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood Association of Utah and the ACLU of Utah.

Utah’s so-called abortion “trigger law” — given that nickname because although the Utah Legislature passed it in 2020, it would only go into effect should Roe v. Wade be overturned, as it was this year — effectively bans abortions except under limited circumstances. Those include if the mother’s life is at risk, if the pregnancy was a result of rape or incest, or if two physicians who practice “maternal fetal medicine” both determine that the fetus “has a defect that is uniformly diagnosable and uniformly lethal or … has a severe brain abnormality that is uniformly diagnosable.”

Planned Parenthood sued the state in an attempt to block the law from going into effect earlier this summer after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that the U.S. Constitution does not provide a right to abortion, overturning Roe v. Wade.

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes’ office’s petition said “the district court abused its discretion in preliminarily enjoining SB174” and the ruling “should be reversed on interlocutory appeal on this ground alone.”

An interlocutory appeal — which the Utah Supreme Court said it would allow — is an appeal of a ruling by a trial court that is made before the trial itself has concluded.

Reyes’ office said the state needed to seek permission from the state Supreme Court to challenge the injunction on appeal because the preliminary injunction granted by 3rd District Court Judge Andrew Stone does not resolve the case.

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Utah Supreme Court allows halt on abortion ‘trigger law’ to remain in place