‘A Culture of Life’: Utah Bans Abortion Facilities Statewide
The state of Utah will ban all abortion facilities from the state by requiring abortionists to meet the same quality standards as hospitals, a step abortion facilities call a backdoor ban on elective abortions.
Utah Governor Spencer Cox (R) signed H.B. 467, introduced by Majority Assistant Whip Rep. Karianne Lisonbee (R-Clearfield), on Wednesday. The law prevents new abortion facilities from obtaining a license as of May 2, and bans abortions inside stand-alone abortion facilities beginning the first day of 2024.
The law mandates all abortions take place inside hospitals, or stand-alone facilities that have the “quality to provide the same degree of safety as ... a general hospital licensed by the department.” Abortionists have historically opposed any regulations requiring them to meet the same health standards as other outpatient surgical centers.
“Abortion clinics are not medical facilities. Planned Parenthood and the rest of the abortion industry exist to generate a profit by taking lives of unborn children, rather than to care for patients,” said SBA Pro-Life America’s Western Regional Director Adam Schwend. “They generally do not have to abide by the same regulatory standards as health clinics, and this puts women at risk.”
Cox said the legislation is “absolutely not” a ban on all abortion statewide, but Planned Parenthood — which operates three of the state’s four abortion facilities — said trying to meet better health care guidelines would effectively make it impossible for them to operate. Currently, all hospitals statewide carry out abortions only in emergencies, according to the Utah Hospital Association.
The abortion industry states that hospital regulations raise costs, and medical personnel do not wish to participate in abortion-on-demand. “Doing an abortion in a hospital, you need more personnel,” said Carole Joffe, a pro-abortion sociology professor at the University of California at San Francisco. “You have to draw from a pool that may or may not be sympathetic to abortion.”
The bill, which passed the state House of Representatives and state Senate on straight party-line votes, also forbids out-of-state abortionists from dispensing abortion pills to citizens of Utah and protects children conceived in rape or incest after the 18th week of pregnancy, well into the second trimester.
The law clarifies that violating these standards constitutes unprofessional conduct under state health guidelines, and requires doctors to inform mothers of perinatal hospice in the case of extreme fetal anomalies.
A judge enjoined the state’s 2020 trigger law, which protects most unborn children from the moment of conception, last July. Until the state Supreme Court weighs in on the case brought by the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah and the local ACLU, state officials enforce a 2019 law protecting unborn children after 18 weeks.
The ACLU of Utah has already considered suing to block the new law, said executive director Brittney Nystrom.
But “establishing these new safeguards for the unborn and women’s health,” Schwend said, will help “advance a culture of life in Utah.”
Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.