Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Judge blocks Utah’s abortion trigger law

AP — Supreme Court Abortion Decision, Utah State Capitol, June 24, 2022
Rick Bowmer
/
AP
Raquel Juarez protests for abortion rights at the Utah State Capitol Friday, June 24, 2022, in Salt Lake City.

Third District Court Judge Andrew Stone has granted a request by the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah for a preliminary injunction that prevents Utah’s abortion trigger law from taking effect.

Judge Stone said Monday that Utahns would face “irreparable harm” and “increased health risks” without access to safe abortions.

“They're going to obtain abortions through less accessible means, which involves health risks,” he said. “Some women will likely resort to unsafe and illegal methods, which involve risks to not only the woman but obviously any life or potential life she's carrying.”

The preliminary injunction is effective immediately and will remain until the lawsuit questioning the constitutionality of Utah’s trigger law is settled. The judge acknowledged that the case will most likely be determined by the Utah Supreme Court.

Hours after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to abortion on June 24, Utah lawmakers promptly certified the state’s trigger law. Under SB 174, the majority of abortions would be prohibited except in a few rare circumstances, such as rape, incest or maternal health risks.

Planned Parenthood quickly sued the state over the law and asked the court to block the statute, arguing that it violated the right to equal protection and bodily integrity outlined in Utah’s Constitution.

Stone approved Planned Parenthood’s request and issued a two-week restraining order on June 27. That order was set to expire Monday.

When the court convened Monday afternoon, the attorney representing Planned Parenthood, Julie Murray, said the trigger law infringed on Utahn’s bodily integrity by forcing them to carry an unwanted pregnancy.

“By enacting the ban, the state has prevented pregnant people in Utah from ending their pregnancies, forcing them to submit to roughly nine months of dramatic physical transformation …,” Murray said, “and putting them at increased physical risks, including death without their consent.”

Tyler Green, the lawyer defending the state, said Utah’s Constitution does not explicitly protect the right to an abortion. Additionally, Green emphasized the reversal of Roe v. Wade returned the regulation of abortion to the states.

“That court [SCOTUS] recognized that there were serious and substantial state interests in protecting the life of the unborn child,” Green said.

Despite the injunction on the trigger law, a 2019 law passed by the Utah Legislature prohibiting elective abortions after 18 weeks remains in effect.

KUER is listener-supported public radio. Support this work by making a donation today.