Judge Blocks Utah Law Banning New Licenses for Abortion Clinics

Judge Blocks Utah Law Banning New Licenses for Abortion Clinics
A Planned Parenthood in Salt Lake City, Utah, on June 28, 2022. (Rick Bowmer/ AP Photo)

A judge in Utah has temporarily blocked Utah from enforcing a new law that would ban new licenses for abortion clinics in the state.

The law, HB 467, would have barred Utah from issuing licenses for any new abortion clinics and would have phased out existing licenses by 2024.

Planned Parenthood had sued to block the law, saying if the law went into effect, the licensing process for abortion clinics would be eliminated, making it impossible to legally obtain an abortion anywhere but in a hospital and some of their satellite clinics.

In doing so, this would violate the state constitution’s rights to privacy and bodily integrity, the abortion provider argued.

Judge Andrew H. Stone of the Third District Court of the state of Utah on Tuesday granted (pdf) the abortion provider’s request for a preliminary injunction, saying the group has a “substantial likelihood” to prevail in its argument that the Utah law is not reasonable.

Stone said the court was convinced that the new ban “singles out” abortion clinics without a “rational basis.”

“There is nothing before the Court to indicate that an injunction would be adverse to the public interest,” Stone wrote in his decision.

According to the Guttmacher Institute for reproductive health, hospitals, and satellite clinics have as of 2020 provided roughly 1 percent of abortions in Utah.

Planned Parenthood has four abortion clinics in Utah. Because the law is temporarily blocked, the clinics can continue to provide abortions and other services for now. Utah currently bans abortions after 18 weeks of pregnancy.

The law will remain on hold as the legal challenge from Planned Parenthood advances through the court system.

“The court’s decision today allows people in Utah to breathe a huge sigh of relief,” Sarah Stoesz, the interim president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Association of Utah, said in a statement to outlets.

The office of Utah’s Attorney General declined to comment on pending litigation.

Republican lawmakers have previously said the law was designed to provide clarity to hospitals and clarify parts of the legal code that would no longer be relevant once the state’s abortion restrictions are fully implemented. They also have noted that clinics could apply for expanded licenses as hospitals under the new framework.

Utah is one of many U.S. states that tried to restrict abortion access after the U.S. Supreme Court on June 24, 2022, overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling.

Utah had passed an abortion ban in 2020—SB 174—that would be “triggered” if the Supreme Court overturned Roe.

But Judge Stone granted a temporary block of Utah’s abortion trigger law, while a lawsuit against the law, brought by Planned Parenthood, continues.

The state is currently appealing the injunction to the Utah Supreme Court.

West Virginia, North Dakota, and Mississippi do not have any abortion clinics due to laws enacted in recent months and years that effectively banned the procedure in the states.

From The Epoch Times

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