State Watch

ACLU, Planned Parenthood of Utah sue in attempt to block state’s abortion trigger law

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Utah and Planned Parenthood of Utah filed a lawsuit against the state seeking to block its abortion “trigger” law, which went into effect on Friday following the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade.

The groups argued that Utah’s law, which bans abortion at any stage of pregnancy with limited exceptions, violates the state’s constitution.

“If left in place, the Criminal Abortion Ban will be catastrophic for Utahns,” the lawsuit reads. “The Act will force some Utahns seeking abortion to instead carry pregnancies to term against their will, with all of the physical, emotional, and financial costs that entails.”

Utah S.B. 174, the Abortion Prohibition Amendments, was signed into law by Republican Gov. Gary Herbert in 2020 but only went into effect after the overturning of Roe.

The Abortion Prohibition Amendments allows abortions in cases of rape, incest or severe fetal “brain abnormality” and does not classify the removal of ectopic pregnancies or “a dead unborn child” as abortion.

Under the law, a person who performs an abortion could face one to fifteen years in prison in addition to fines, although women seeking abortions would not be criminalized.

General Counsel John L. Fellows of the Utah Legislature wrote to members of the Legislative Management Committee on Friday announcing that the state’s abortion ban would go into effect after the high court ended federal-level abortion protections.

A second law, the Down Syndrome Nondiscrimination Abortion Act signed by Herbert in 2019, will also fully go into effect as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision.

The Down Syndrome Nondiscrimination Abortion Act, Utah H.B. 166, prohibits abortion when “the pregnant mother’s sole reason for the abortion is that the unborn child has or may have Down syndrome.”

The act included a provision that it would apply to abortions occurring before viability if and when “a court of binding authority holds that a state may prohibit the abortion of an unborn child before the unborn child is viable outside of the mother if the sole reason for the abortion is that the unborn child has or may have Down syndrome.”

Tags Abortion Prohibition Amendments abortion rights ACLU American Civil Liberties Union Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization Gary Herbert Planned Parenthood Roe v. Wade Utah
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