SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4) – A coalition of Utah Republican legislators sent cease-and-desist letters to Utah abortion providers and funders on Thursday, Sept. 15.
In the letters, the Representatives warn that abortion still “remains a felony criminal offense” in Utah due to the state’s trigger law, SB174, following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade in June.
The letters come two months after Utah Third District Judge Andrew Stone granted the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah a preliminary injunction to extend the ban on SB174.
Legislators say “anyone who is currently violating Utah’s trigger ban will be prosecuted in the future for those crimes if the preliminary injunction is vacated or reversed on appeal. In addition, the legislators are warning that federal law imposes felony criminal liability on anyone who sends or receives abortion-inducing drugs in interstate commerce.”
The cease-and-desist letters demand Planned Parenthood Association of Utah (PPAU) and the Wasatch Women’s Center “immediately stop performing abortions except under the extent permitted by Utah’s trigger law.” According to SB174, abortions can be permitted in the State of Utah only if the abortion is performed to save the life of the mother who is at serious risk, if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, or if the abortion is performed in response to severe fetal deformities.
Voluntary abortions performed outside of the exceptions can result in up to 15 years of imprisonment per abortion.
In a statement to ABC4, PPAU president and CEO, Karrie Galloway said “this is a political stunt. Full stop. Anti-abortion politicians are trying to circumvent the judicial system by harassing health care providers and instilling a culture of fear. PPAU is providing abortion care in full compliance with current law and always has. Our lawyers will continue to monitor the situation, but we remain open for our patients and will continue to do all we can to make sure all Utahns can get the health care they need.”
“Abortion remains a criminal offense in Utah, and the trigger ban is in effect,” said Representative Lisonbee, who signed the cease-and-desist letters. “The legislature will ensure that anyone who violates the laws of our state is held accountable for their criminal acts. Anyone who is performing or assisting abortions in violation of our statutes must immediately stop or face future criminal prosecution.”
Representatives Birkeland and Lisonbee clarified the press release and letter issued were not legal analysis from the Utah Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel but the opinion of the legislators who signed it.
Along with Birkeland and Lisonbee, the letters were signed by Representatives Walt Brooks, Cory Maloy, Ken Ivory, Jordan Teuscher, Cheryl Acton, Melissa Ballard, Adam Robertson, Judy Rohner, Jon Hawkins, Mark Strong, Mike Petersen, Stephen Whyte, Stephen Handy, Matt Gwynn, Rex Shipp, Carl Albrecht, Kay Christofferson, Colin Jack, Steve Lund, and Brady Brammer. Candidates Stephanie Gricius and Katy Hall also added their names to the letters.