Abortion advocates take aim at HB467

Mar 1, 2023, 6:51 PM | Updated: Mar 2, 2023, 7:17 am

SALT LAKE CITY — As Utah’s trigger law banning almost all abortions remains caught up in court, abortion rights advocates slammed a bill making its way through the legislature that would end licensing for clinics and require almost all abortions be performed at hospitals.

“It is absolutely disheartening to think that this legislation can take from me my right to care for everyone,” said Jasmin Charles, clinical director at SUPeRAD Clinic.

Charles said HB467 would limit the care she provides as a physician’s assistant at a clinic that cares for pregnant women with substance use disorder.

“I know we all like to go home and think it doesn’t affect us, but every one of us will be affected in some way or other,” she said.

Charles was one of seven speakers who took aim at the bill during a press conference at the Utah Capitol on Wednesday.

“This bill could effectively end abortion access in Utah except in narrow and extreme circumstances,” said Jason Stevenson, director of public policy at Planned Parenthood of Utah.

“It’s not just bad policy, it’s dangerous policy that hurts patients, providers and Utah’s reputation as a safe place to start a family.”

HB467 would stop licensing for elective abortion clinics in the state. It would also require abortions to be performed in hospitals with limited exceptions. Out-of-state providers wouldn’t be able to prescribe drugs to Utahns to cause an abortion. It also puts a limit on abortions due to rape or incest so survivors wouldn’t be able to get an abortion after 18 weeks.

“The bill will end the licensing of abortion clinics because we are not going to have abortion clinics in this state anymore,” Mary Taylor, president of Pro-Life Utah, said. “We don’t want elective abortions in the state of Utah. We anticipate that will come to an end really soon.”

Taylor said the bill is meant to address concerns that came up when Utah’s trigger law went into effect over the summer. A lawsuit and an injunction followed, and that bill is still held up in court.

“Abortion is not women’s health care,” Taylor said. “No other health care on this planet takes the life of another human being.”

Planned Parenthood said the bill treats more than 3,000 patients who need abortion care each year as second-class citizens.

“Having an abortion saved my life,” Candida Taveras said during the press conference. “I was able to work on my mental health, improve my living situation and live a life that was right for me.”

Taveras now works for Planned Parenthood of Utah.

HB467 still needs another vote in the Senate before it heads back to the House. Abortion advocates worry targeting clinics won’t just impact abortion care but other care those clinics provide.

“That’s their access to contraception. That’s their access to sexually-transmitted infection treatment,” Charles said.

Brittany Nystrom is the executive director at ACLU of Utah, which is currently involved in the lawsuit against Utah’s trigger law. She said they would challenge any “legislative attempts to significantly limit a person’s reproductive freedom — including the right to decide if and when to become a parent.”

“People, not politicians, should be free to make their own decisions about abortion care,” Nystrom said.

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Abortion advocates take aim at HB467