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Abortions in Utah now banned after 18 weeks as trigger law gets adjudicated

US Supreme Court -Leslie Thatcher.jpg
Leslie Thatcher
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The U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on abortion has triggered a 2019 abortion law in Utah.

A law approved by the Utah legislature back in 2019 is now the state’s reigning policy on abortion. HB 136, which bans abortions after 18 weeks of pregnancy, is in effect.

Enforcement of HB 136 is the latest chapter in Utahns’ battle over abortion rights. Utah is one of a handful of states moving quickly to stop abortions following the U.S. Supreme Court decision last week to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that guaranteed abortion rights nationally.

In Utah, the Supreme Court’s ruling instantly triggered SB 174, a 2020 law banning all abortions, except in a few limited circumstances.

But a state judge quickly put that on hold. On Monday, Third District Judge Andrew Stone granted a temporary restraining order sought by Planned Parenthood of Utah and the ACLU, which are suing Utah on the grounds that SB 174 violates the state constitution.

While the trigger law is on hold, another law has taken effect.

HB 136, a 2019 law banning abortions after 18 weeks, had been held up in the courts. As reported in the Salt Lake Tribune, HB 136 was previously blocked by a federal judge after Planned Parenthood sued over it.

According to Utah Rep. Cheryl Acton (R-West Jordan), who sponsored HB 136, the 18-week abortion ban can now go into effect, because the injunction against it was dismissed and the federal case was closed due to the Supreme Court’s recent decision.

The Utah Attorney General’s Office confirmed to The Salt Lake Tribune that the 18-week ban is now in effect.

In a statement, Planned Parenthood Association of Utah president and CEO Karrie Galloway said the organization is still providing abortions and still has a right to challenge the existing 18-week ban in a future lawsuit. But for now, she said they are focused on challenging the trigger ban while doing all they can to provide for their patients.

The Tribune reports that most of the 2,776 abortions performed in Utah in 2019 were done at seven or eight weeks gestation. 5% of them were performed between 15 to 20 weeks gestation.

Tough but fair, Leslie is the woman most of Park City wakes up with every weekday morning. Leslie has been at KPCW since 1990 and her years at KPCW have given her depth and insight, guiding her as she asks local leaders and citizens the questions on everyone’s minds during the live interviews of the Local News Hour.