Utah judge to rule next week on state abortion clinic ban

Apr 28, 2023, 2:28 AM | Updated: 3:04 pm

FILE - Planned Parenthood of Utah is shown on June 28, 2022, in Salt Lake City. A Utah court on Fri...

FILE - Planned Parenthood of Utah is shown on June 28, 2022, in Salt Lake City. A Utah court on Friday, April 28, 2023, will consider a request from Planned Parenthood to delay implementing a statewide ban on abortion clinics set to begin taking effect next week. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Planned Parenthood Association of Utah argued in court on Friday that a ban on abortion clinics would “functionally eliminate” abortion access if implemented next week as scheduled.

After hearing arguments from attorneys representing Utah and abortion providers, state court judge Andrew Stone said he planned to rule next week on Planned Parenthood’s motion requesting the law be delayed.

“It would not be fair at this point to shoot from the hip,” Stone said, explaining that he needed several days to review each side’s briefs.

Planned Parenthood argues that the clinic ban is a backdoor strategy from Utah to further restrict abortion while legal challenges to a 2020 trigger law make their way through the court system. Utah rebuffed those arguments and said abortion clinics could reapply to be licensed as hospitals under the new framework. The state’s attorneys said the court had little grounds to overrule a law passed and signed by elected officials because courts hadn’t determined Utah’s Constitution guaranteed the right to an abortion.

“There is a public interest in enacting laws, including licensure laws and regulations, that promote high standards of public health and safety, even if the effect of such laws reduces the number of overall providers,” attorneys general argued.

Amid conflicting interpretations of when abortion clinics will lose their licenses under the law, Planned Parenthood said it would be forced to stop providing abortions when provisions of the law begin on May 3. It operates three of the four clinics in Utah that provide abortions. Utah officials have said the licenses would remain valid until the end of the year, but Planned Parenthood has said it fears that continuing as before could open their clinicians up to criminal penalties.

“There are no other alternatives if these clinics are shut down,” said Sarah Stoesz, the president and CEO of the group’s Utah affiliate, said outside of court on Friday. “Hospitals have not stepped forward to say that they will take the care that licensed abortion clinics provide.”

The ban on clinics is Utah lawmakers’ latest effort to restrict abortions and comes less than a year after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. That decision triggered two previously passed laws — a 2019 ban on abortion after 18 weeks and a 2020 ban on abortions regardless of trimester, with several exceptions including instances of risk to maternal health as well as rape or incest reported to the police.

The state Planned Parenthood affiliate sued over the 2020 ban. Last July, a judge delayed implementing it until legal challenges could be resolved. The 18-week ban has since been de facto law.

If the clinic ban takes effect, the delicensing of clinics will transition most abortions to hospitals, which generally do not specialize in low-cost outpatient abortions, including providing the abortion pill. In Utah, clinics provide 95% of abortions.

State Rep. Karianne Lisbonbee, the sponsor of the clinic ban legislation, told the AP last month that ensuring hospitals could provide abortions in the emergency circumstances outlined in the 2020 ban “strikes the best balance of protecting innocent life and protecting women who experience rare and dangerous complications during pregnancy.”

The law is set to take effect next Wednesday, at which time abortion clinics will no longer be able to apply to be licensed. It would institute a full ban on Jan. 1, 2024, by stripping all clinics of their licenses.

The clinic-centered push in Utah is unique among states with trigger laws, where many abortion clinics closed after last year’s Supreme Court decision. Clinics were shuttered in states including measures regulating clinics, including the size of procedure rooms and distances from hospitals.

The court heard the request to delay implementing the ban as lawmakers in Nebraska and South Carolina both elected not to advance abortion restriction measures. The impact of the Supreme Court’s decision has continued to bear out in legislatures across the United States and in courtrooms, where lawsuits challenging newly implemented restrictions have been filed in at least 21 states.

National News

Associated Press

San Francisco police: 9 victims hit but no deaths in Mission District mass shooting

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Multiple victims were struck by bullets during a mass shooting in San Francisco’s Mission District Friday night, but authorities said there were no fatalities. “We can confirm there are 9 shooting victims — all are expected to survive their injuries,” the San Francisco Police Department said in a tweet. Police said […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

This school reopened quickly after COVID. Kids’ reading was still behind

COLUMBUS, Kan. (AP) — Students spread out in their rural Kansas classroom, answering questions with a partner about invaders atop elephants attempting to sack Rome more than 2,000 years ago. “Do you want to read?” one of the third graders, Parker, asked his partner after the lesson on the Punic Wars. “Because I’m not really […]

1 day ago

Seen is the damage from a collapsed apartment building, Monday, June 5, 2023, in Davenport, Iowa. T...

Associated Press

Cracked floors, bowed walls: Many warnings but no action at Iowa building before deadly collapse

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — So many people knew something wasn’t right at the 116-year-old Davenport apartment building. The structural engineer who documented the shaky wall. The head of a masonry company who wouldn’t let his workers onto the site. The city inspector who threatened to close some units. A downtown official who called 911 […]

1 day ago

One of several cameras set up to capture live debate in the chamber of the Nebraska Legislature is ...

Associated Press

Nebraska Legislature as reality TV, featuring filibuster and culture war drama

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Mention televised legislative debates, and what may come to mind are stuffy, policy-wonk discussions broadcast by C-SPAN. This year’s Nebraska Legislature was more like a reality TV show, with culture-war rhetoric, open hostility among lawmakers, name-calling, yelling and more. Many Nebraskans couldn’t get enough of it. “It was addictive,” said Jamie […]

1 day ago

Drag performer Neon Calypso, center, sings and dances to Tina Turner's version of the song "Proud M...

Associated Press

Pride is back in Boston as parade returns after quarrel over inclusivity

BOSTON (AP) — The biggest Pride parade in New England returns to Boston after a three-year hiatus Saturday, with a fresh focus on social justice and inclusion rather than corporate backing. About 10,000 marchers signed up before registration was shut down, according to organizers. Employee groups are welcome to march, but corporations aren’t. “We really […]

1 day ago

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of Calif., leaves his office on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday,...

Associated Press

Trump’s GOP defenders in Congress leap into action on charges after months of preparation

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former President Donald Trump’s indictment on charges of mishandling classified documents is set to play out in a federal court in Florida. But hundred of miles away, part of Trump’s defense is well underway in a different venue — the halls of Congress, where Republicans have been preparing for months to wage […]

1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Education families...

Education that meets the needs of students, families

Washington Virtual Academies (WAVA) is a program of Omak School District that is a full-time online public school for students in grades K-12.

Emergency preparedness...

Emergency planning for the worst-case scenario

What would you do if you woke up in the middle of the night and heard an intruder in your kitchen? West Coast Armory North can help.

Innovative Education...

The Power of an Innovative Education

Parents and students in Washington state have the power to reimagine the K-12 educational experience through Insight School of Washington.

Medicare fraud...

If you’re on Medicare, you can help stop fraud!

Fraud costs Medicare an estimated $60 billion each year and ultimately raises the cost of health care for everyone.

Men's Health Month...

Men’s Health Month: Why It’s Important to Speak About Your Health

June is Men’s Health Month, with the goal to raise awareness about men’s health and to encourage men to speak about their health.

Internet Washington...

Major Internet Upgrade and Expansion Planned This Year in Washington State

Comcast is investing $280 million this year to offer multi-gigabit Internet speeds to more than four million locations.

Utah judge to rule next week on state abortion clinic ban