Utah law prohibiting abortions after 18 weeks’ gestation takes effect

Photo: Gephardt Daily/Patrick Benedict

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, June 28, 2022 (Gephardt Daily) — A 2019 law prohibiting abortions after 18 weeks’ gestation has gone into effect while a judge reviews a trigger law criminalizing abortion in Utah.

HB136, passed by the Legislature and signed by former Gov. Gary Herbert in March 2019, had been in litigation for more than three years until Monday, when Planned Parenthood of Utah and the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah agreed to dismiss the lawsuit amid the groups’ current challenge to SB174, a Utah abortion ban triggered by Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.

“The injunction against HB136 was dismissed yesterday due to the recent Dobbs decision at the Supreme Court,” the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Cheryl Acton, R-West Jordan, said in a news release Tuesday, referring to Friday’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

HB136 prohibits elective abortion after 18 weeks’ gestation except in situations involving rape, incest, risk of the mother’s life, permanent impairment of the mother, fatal fetal defects and severe brain abnormalities.

“As a state, Utah values human life at all ages and stages and under all circumstances,” Rep. Action said. “HB136 will protect unborn children after 18 weeks’ gestation pending the outcome of SB174.”

Planned Parenthood and the ACLU of Utah filed a lawsuit in April 2019 to block HB136 from taking effect, saying it violates the state constitution. The Utah Attorney General’s Office agreed to delay enforcement of the law pending the outcome of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health.

On Monday, a Utah judge issued a temporary restraining order blocking implementation of SB174, the state’s Abortion Prohibition Amendments law that criminalizes abortion with a few exceptions.

The action by Salt Lake County’s 3rd District Court Judge Andrew Stone was in response to a lawsuit filed Saturday against the state by Planned Parenthood, ACLU of Utah and and the Salt Lake City law firm of Zimmerman Booher.

The temporary restraining order will remain in effect for at least 14 days to give attorneys on both sides time to prepare for the case moving forward.


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