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Planned Parenthood Utah files lawsuit against state over abortion ban

Trump Family Planning
Rick Bowmer
Planned Parenthood's Utah clinics, like this one in Salt Lake City, stopped performing abortions after a state law banned the procedures in wake of a United States Supreme Court ruling Friday allowing states to make their own abortion laws.

The state of Utah outlawed almost all abortions Friday night after a historic Supreme Court ruling earlier that day.  But Utah chapters of Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit to stop the state’s ban.

Planned Parenthood has three abortion clinics in Utah. After a state law banned the procedure Friday night, spokesperson Katrina Barker told KPCW they canceled appointments Saturday.

The Utah law bans abortions except if two doctors say the fetus has a lethal defect, in cases of conception through rape or incest, or to protect the life of the mother or prevent “substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function” for the mother.

The state legislature passed the so-called “trigger law” in 2020 in anticipation of a ruling by the Supreme Court that lets states decide their own abortion laws. So when the high court made that ruling Friday morning, the state enacted the ban just hours later.

On Saturday, the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah and American Civil Liberties Union of Utah filed a lawsuit against the state. The suit says the trigger law violates rights bestowed unto families in the state constitution.

The lawsuit also requests a temporary restraining order against the ban. Barker said the clinics would resume performing abortions if a district court judge grants that request.

The lawsuit says 55 people are scheduled for abortions in Utah’s Planned Parenthood clinics in the next week.

On Friday, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes said his office would defend the state law against any legal challenges.

“We now have politicians making decisions, critical decisions, about my body, your body, how I will start a family, how I will live life,” said Planned Parenthood of Utah President and CEO Karrie Galloway on Friday. “It's unbelievable that the Supreme Court [had] — and I'm going to use the word audacity — to overturn 50 years of precedent for over 50% of the population.”

Galloway said while clinics aren’t performing abortions, they will still offer other forms of support. The lawsuit describes Planned Parenthood as a nonprofit serving 46,000 Utahns a year with sexual and reproductive health care and education.

Besides Planned Parenthood, the Wasatch Women’s Center is the only other abortion clinic in the state restricted by the ban.

The lawsuit names Reyes, Gov. Spencer Cox and Director of the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing Mark Steinagel.

Utah is one of 13 states that had passed trigger laws before the Supreme Court ruling Friday.

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