SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Utah’s branches of Planned Parenthood and the ACLU are joining forces in the state’s Third Judicial District in asking for an injunction against the legislature’s newest abortion law changes.
HB 467, which passed with overwhelming support in both state houses, was signed into law by Gov. Spencer Cox on March 15, just one month after being introduced in the State House. The law changes the way clinics are licensed to perform abortions in Utah, making it harder for clinics to maintain an existing license and banning new licenses from being permitted.
Officials from both Planned Parenthood and the ACLU said the law will outlaw abortions in clinics statewide starting May 3 when the law takes effect — unless, that is, a judge grants the injunction.
Planned Parenthood Utah Interim President/CEO Susan Stoesz reminded Utahns that abortion is still legal in Utah up to 18 weeks of pregnancy right now. But she said HB 467 is a “disingenuous” and “very cruel law” that could put people’s lives in danger if it’s allowed to go into effect.
HB 467 would functionally push all abortions out of area clinics like Planned Parenthood’s, which handle 95% of Utah’s procedures, Stoesz said. Abortions would then move to hospitals only or to facilities licensed as hospitals. Stoesz said area hospitals are not prepared to handle that influx of patients, and some facilities will not be willing to perform the procedures. Pushing patients into the hospital system will also make abortions more expensive, she claimed. All of these things together would make abortion access “insurmountable” for the people she said needs them most.
ABC4 has reached out to the Utah Hospital Association (UHA) for comment on those claims.
“We don’t have any comment specific to the lawsuit,” stated UHA Vice-President of Member and Community Affairs Jill Vicory. “In general, Utah hospitals do not provide elective abortion procedures and each hospital system operating in the state will need to determine how to respond to HB 467 for their respective facilities.”
All healthcare facilities that ABC4 reached out to declined to comment and referred us back to Vicory’s statement.
As the law stands right now, Utah abortion clinics that are not broader medical facilities will be forced to close on Jan. 1, 2024, or when their licenses expire, whichever comes first.
For doctors to perform an abortion, they have to find that the fetus has an abnormality that is “incompatible with life,” and will be required to notify the mother that perinatal hospice and perinatal palliative care are available as an alternative to abortion. If the fetus is under 18 weeks and the mother is a victim of rape, or incest, or is under the age of 14, doctors may perform the procedure.
If physicians stray outside those rules, they can be in violation of “professional conduct” standards, as laid out by the new law.
The law also bans drugs like methotrexate, misoprostol, and mifepristone (mifexprex) for use in any abortion procedure outside of a doctor’s care, making it illegal to get those drugs off, say, the internet.
Any other person who intentionally causes the death of an unborn child will be in violation of the law.
HB 467 was sponsored by Rep. Karianne Lisonbee and Sen. Daniel McCay and co-sponsored by another 19 legislators.
Lisonbee and McCay released the following joint statement:
“As a state, we deeply value human life. It’s the state’s responsibility to protect the most vulnerable, and that includes the unborn. We worked closely with area doctors and hospitals to ensure the statute strikes the best balance of protecting innocent life and protecting women who experience rare and dangerous complications during pregnancy. We look forward to reading and fully understanding the lawsuit’s claims and will vigorously defend statute.”
The 246-page motion for the injunction is included in its entirety below.