Utah Partial-Birth Abortion Ban On Hold While Lawsuit Moves Ahead
by Steven Ertelt
May 6, 2004
Salt Lake City, UT (LifeNews.com) — A state ban on partial-birth abortions in Utah will be put on hold while a lawsuit filed by abortion advocates moves forward. U.S. District Judge Paul Cassell signed an order Tuesday issuing a temporary restraining order sought by the abortion businesses.
The move puts the ban on hold for at least 10 days, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.
"We anticipated doing this all along," Assistant Attorney General Jerrold Jensen told the newspaper. He said state officials expected the ban would not be enforced until three lawsuits against the federal ban signed into law by President Bush have been completed.
However, confusion erupted yesterday when New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights, a pro-abortion law firm, sent out a press release saying Gov. Olene Walker had signed the order blocking the pro-life law.
"The press release is completely out of line and misrepresents the governor’s position. She’s committed to upholding the sanctity of life. She signed the legislation," Walker spokeswoman Amanda Covington said.
The group was forced to issue a corrected press release later in the day.
Sen. Curt Bramble (R), the lead sponsor of the legislation, said he wasn’t surprised by the judge’s order and said he, too, intended to see what happens with the federal lawsuits.
"If the federal law is upheld, you’d expect our bill to be upheld equally," he told the Salt Lake paper.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court by the Utah Women’s Clinic, an abortion business, and the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah, saws the law suffers from the same "constitutional flaws" as a similar Nebraska ban.
The Supreme Court struck down that state’s ban in 2000 saying that it lacked a health exception, despite evidence that such abortions are never needed to protect a woman’s health.
In the federal lawsuits, the San Francisco hearings have been completed and trials in Nebraska and New York are continuing. Decisions in those cases are expected in late summer.
According to the Utah Health Department, approximately 3,300 abortions are performed in the state annually. Most of the abortions occurred at Utah Women’s Clinic, which also advertises abortions in surrounding states.