SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah Gov. Spencer Cox said Friday he plans to sign a measure that would effectively ban abortion clinics from operating in the state, meaning hospitals will soon be the only places where abortion clinics can be found. toast in the state.
After passing through the state Senate Thursday with minor amendments, it returned to the Utah House of Representatives Friday morning, where it was approved and then sent to the governor for final approval. The move comes less than a year after the US Supreme Court reversed the Roe v. Wade, giving states the power to regulate abortions.
Cox told reporters he will sign the legislation, which also clarifies the definition of abortion to address liability concerns raised by providers about the way exceptions are worded in state law, a provision he and Republican lawmakers they called compromise.
“One of the concerns with the activation bill that medical providers across the state had was that there was a lack of clarity that would have made it difficult for them to perform legal abortions,” Cox said.
The measure is one of several Republican-majority Utah state house members passed this year, while abortion restrictions passed in previous years are on hold due to a state court order. It has faced fierce opposition from business, civil liberties and abortion rights groups, including the Utah Planned Parenthood Association, which operates three of the four abortion clinics in the state.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Utah sent Cox a letter Friday demanding that he veto the legislation, and its executive director wrote that it interferes with people’s rights and “pushes essential abortion care out of reach.”
The push by Republican lawmakers to shut down abortion clinics comes as red states across the country work to implement restrictions following the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the US Supreme Court decision that upheld the constitutional right to abortion for nearly 50 years.
In Utah, the ruling triggered two previously passed laws: a ban on abortion after 18 weeks in 2019 and a ban on abortions in 2020 regardless of trimester, with several exceptions that include cases of risk to maternal health, as well as cases of rape or incest reported to the police. . The state affiliate of Planned Parenthood sued over the 2020 ban, and in July, a state court delayed its implementation until legal challenges could be resolved. The 18-week ban has since been de facto law.
The clinic-focused push in Utah is unique among states with trigger laws, where many abortion clinics closed after last year’s Supreme Court decision, including in West Virginia and Mississippi. The measure reflects a series of proposals passed in red states in the decade before Roe was struck down when anti-abortion lawmakers passed measures regulating clinics, including the size of procedure rooms and distances from hospitals.
In Utah, Rep. Karianne Lisonbee’s proposal would require all abortions, by medication or surgery, to be performed in hospitals by not allowing new clinics to be licensed after May 2 and not allowing them to operate after their licenses expire. It would affect the operations of Utah’s four abortion clinics: three run by Planned Parenthood and the other by the Wasatch Women’s Center, an independent clinic in Salt Lake City.
In Utah last year, clinics provided the majority of abortions. Of the total of 2818 administered, 61% were with drugs such as mifepristone instead of surgery. Abortion access advocates argued that abortions were no different than other types of specialty care that have increasingly moved into clinical settings where providers are more accustomed to recurring concerns from patients and the complications that can arise.
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