UTAH LEGISLATURE

Bill to ‘simplify’ lawsuit over Utah’s abortion trigger ban passes House committee

Feb 20, 2024, 5:57 PM | Updated: 6:54 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah bill aimed at simplifying legal questions surrounding Utah’s near-total abortion ban cleared a House committee Tuesday, though opponents accused Republicans of trying to impact ongoing litigation.

HB560, introduced by House Majority Whip Karianne Lisonbee, R-Clearfield, on Thursday, would repeal parts of a bill passed last year that effectively bars elective abortion clinics from operating in the state. The clinic ban was placed on hold last year after the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah sued over the law.

A judge granted a preliminary injunction, halting the clinic ban while the courts continue to weigh its constitutionality. Utah’s trigger abortion ban was similarly paused in 2022 shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

Lisonbee’s bill “repeals all of the language that’s currently enjoined,” she told KSL TV, in an effort to simplify the questions before the courts, as lawmakers await a ruling on whether the abortion ban is constitutional.

The Utah Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case in August 2023, but have yet to issue a ruling.

“We hoped that it would have been decided by now. It hasn’t been. And so this bill is an attempt in consultation with many attorneys to remove the enjoined sections in code so that we can get to the question of whether our trigger ban is constitutional,” Lisonbee said.

Because the clinic ban is on hold, she said the bill would have no immediate impact on access to abortion in the state. The procedure is currently available to women through 18 weeks of pregnancy.

While the bill is intended to allow the courts to focus solely on the abortion ban, Lisonbee said she believes the courts will ultimately rule in the state’s favor.

“I’m not sure that makes it more likely,” she said of the bill. “I do have every confidence that the trigger ban will be upheld, but I think that it does simplify.”

Public discussion on the bill during a House Judiciary Committee meeting Tuesday morning focused largely on the underlying policy of abortion access, with representatives from Pro-Life Utah and the Utah Eagle Forum speaking in favor of attempts to limit access to the procedure.

“As we wait for a … ruling from the courts, over 5,000 unborn babies have died from brutal and horrific abortion procedures,” said Mary Taylor, president of Pro-Life Utah. “We cannot continue to wait. HB560 simplifies the lawsuit that’s holding up the implementation of Utah’s duly enacted abortion trigger law and has the potential to save countless unborn babies.”

Shireen Ghorbani, chief corporate affairs officer for Planned Parenthood Associated of Utah, said the organization is “not in favor or against” the bill, but expressed concern about the ongoing legislation focused on restricting abortion access.

“The patients who sought abortion last year in Utah, they deserve to live in a state that doesn’t have constant chaos around this issue,” she told the committee. “The cycle of writing and repealing laws only feeds the uncertainty that these patients face and makes us a more dangerous state for people who are trying to have families.”

She said removing the ban on clinics is a good thing, but expressed frustration at all the changes.

“So, this is a really important question for our legislators,” she told KSL TV. “Are they trying to influence court decisions, which then suggest that there’s really that interplay between our judicial and our legislative branch.”

HB560 ultimately passed through committee on a party-line vote of 9-2. It now advances to the House floor. With less than two weeks remaining in the 2024 legislative session, the bill must clear both chambers of the Legislature before midnight on March 1.

KSL 5 TV Live

Utah Legislature

Prosecutors filed felony charges in a Salt Lake City rape case from 2019, but later reduced them to...

Daniella Rivera

Could making this change help Utah improve sexual assault prosecutions?

Only a fraction of sexual assaults reported to police in Utah result in criminal charges for the perpetrator, but a legislative proposal could potentially change that.

8 days ago

Utah legislators, supporters of the new law, and Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson at a press conference to...

Daniel Woodruff

New Utah school safety law earns praise from victims’ families, but cost concerns persist

Family members who lost children in the deadliest high school shooting in U.S. history came to Utah to celebrate a new law aimed at making schools safer.

14 days ago

Lehi homes...

Daniel Woodruff

Governor highlights bills to help Utah homebuyers, but will they make a difference?

Gov. Spencer Cox on Thursday highlighted several new bills he just signed into law that are aimed at getting more buyers into the market.

27 days ago

A new law is changing the amount of hunter orange that an individual is required to wear during spe...

Mark Jones

Several wildlife-related bills passed into law during 2024 legislative session

A number of wildlife management-related bills have been signed into law by Gov. Spencer Cox, following the completion of the 2024 Utah Legislature.

28 days ago

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sam Gill...

Daniel Woodruff

Salt Lake Co. DA reacts after governor signs controversial bill targeting his office  

Salt Lake County’s top prosecutor is reacting after the governor signed a controversial bill imposing new rules on his office.

1 month ago

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox signing bills and vetoing seven while in his office....

Bridger Beal-Cvetko, KSL.com

Gov. Spencer Cox vetoes 7 bills he thinks are unnecessary from recent legislative session

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox has vetoed several bills passed by lawmakers, after encouraging lawmakers to pass fewer bills in the future legislative sessions.

1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Bill to ‘simplify’ lawsuit over Utah’s abortion trigger ban passes House committee