NATIONAL NEWS

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

FILE - People walk past May Hall, the main administrative building at Dickinson State University in...

Associated Press

President of Dickinson State University in North Dakota resigns after nursing faculty quit

DICKINSON, N.D. (AP) — The president of Dickinson State University in North Dakota announced his resignation on Monday, days after the school’s nursing faculty quit. In a video, Steve Easton announced his departure and acknowledged “turmoil between some in the faculty and the administration.” Seven faculty members resigned Wednesday, KFYR-TV reported. Former Assistant Professor of […]

4 minutes ago

Associated Press

FACT FOCUS: A look at false claims around the assassination attempt on former President Trump

The assassination attempt on former President Donald Trump, who is running for reelection, is fueling a range of false claims and conspiracy theories as authorities seek information about the 20-year-old shooter’s background and motive, how he obtained the AR-style rifle he fired at Trump and security at the venue that failed to stop the shooting. […]

21 minutes ago

FILE - Christina Osborn and her children, Alexander Osborn and Bella Araiza, visit a makeshift memo...

Associated Press

Judge clears way for demolition of Texas church where 26 people were killed in 2017 shooting

FLORESVILLE, Texas (AP) — A judge on Monday cleared the way for the demolition of the small Texas church in Sutherland Springs where a gunman killed more than two dozen worshippers in 2017 in what remains the deadliest church shooting in U.S. history. Following the shooting at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, the church […]

28 minutes ago

RNC Chair Michael Whatley speaks during the Republican National Convention Monday, July 15, 2024, i...

Associated Press

Outside RNC, conservative group defends its Project 2025 guidebook as Democrats ramp up attacks

MILWAUKEE (AP) — At the edge of the cordoned-off perimeter around the Republican National Convention on Monday, hundreds of conservatives filed into the ornate home of the Milwaukee Symphony to hear a parade of luminaries talk policy and Project 2025. Project 2025 is the term for the Heritage Foundation’s nearly 1,000-page handbook for the next […]

49 minutes ago

Peter Buxtun is pictured in San Francisco in this undated photo. Bruxton, the whistleblower who rev...

Associated Press

Tuskegee syphilis study whistleblower Peter Buxtun has died at age 86

NEW YORK (AP) — Peter Buxtun, the whistleblower who revealed that the U.S. government allowed hundreds of Black men in rural Alabama to go untreated for syphilis in what became known as the Tuskegee study, has died. He was 86. Buxtun died May 18 of Alzheimer’s disease in Rocklin, California, according to his attorney, Minna […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

‘Hillbilly Elegy’: JD Vance’s rise to vice presidential candidate began with a bestselling memoir

NEW YORK (AP) — At the heart of J.D. Vance’s journey from venture capitalist to vice presidential candidate is a memoir he first thought of in graduate school, “Hillbilly Elegy.” Vance’s bestseller about his roots in rural Kentucky and blue-collar Ohio made him a national celebrity soon after its publication in the summer of 2016, […]

1 hour ago

Utah judge to rule next week on state abortion clinic ban