Abortion clinic ban advances in legislature

SALT LAKE CITY — A bill that would ban abortion clinics in Utah and heavily restrict abortion access passed through the state Senate on Thursday, March 2.

H.B. 467, sponsored by Rep. Karianne Lisonbee, R-Davis, would prohibit the licensing of abortion clinics after May 2, 2023, and require that abortions be performed in hospitals.

The bill would also prohibit victims of rape or incest from receiving an abortion if their unborn child has reached 18 weeks gestational age.

H.B. 467 will return to the state House of Representatives for voting on minor amendments before heading to Gov. Spencer Cox for final approval. It appears unlikely that Cox, who has self-identified as a “pro-life advocate,” will veto the legislation.

“We wholeheartedly support this Supreme Court ruling and are encouraged to see abortion law will be left to elected state representatives.” Cox and Lt- Gov. Deidre Henderson said in a June 2022 joint statement. “As pro-life advocates, this administration is equally committed to supporting women and families in Utah. We all need to do more to support mothers, pregnant women, and children facing poverty and trauma.”

Pro-choice organizations such as the Planned Parenthood Action Council of Utah and Utah Abortion Fund have outspokenly denounced the bill.

“This legislation will further restrict abortion care in Utah by shuttering abortion clinics and increasing procedure costs tenfold,” said a statement from the Utah Abortion Fund. “We believe that everyone deserves access to the reproductive healthcare they need, free of judgement, stigma, and economic barriers.”

This bill comes less than a year after the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the U.S. Supreme Court, which ended the constitutional right to abortion in the United States.

Following the overturn, two trigger laws sprung into place in Utah, including a ban on abortion after 18 weeks, and a complete ban on abortion except for in special cases. Although the ban on abortion after 18 weeks has been in place statewide since June 2022, the complete ban was delayed due to a lawsuit.

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