Utah Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Case Reopened by Federal Judge

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 9, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Utah Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Case Reopened by Federal Judge Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
May 9
, 2007

Salt Lake City, UT (LifeNews.com) — A federal judge has agreed to reopen an old lawsuit abortion advocates filed against the state’s ban on partial-birth abortions so a decision can be rendered and the law take effect. The ban was on hold until after the Supreme Court issued its recent decision upholding the constitutionality of the federal ban.

The Utah Attorney General’s Office filed a motion in U.S. District Court on Monday asking that the ban be validated. It asks that the injunction be lifted and that the state’s partial-birth abortion ban be immediately enforced.

Judge Paul Cassell ruled on the motion on Tuesday and his decision likely will mean that the partial-birth abortion ban will go into effect. That’s because abortion advocates don’t plan to continue the fight.

"We are not challenging this particular law any further," Karrie Galloway, director of Planned Parenthood of Utah, told the Salt Lake Tribune newspaper. "It is futile."

Assistant Attorney General Jerrold Jensen says the Utah ban is similar to the federal one but is important to have on the books because it makes it easier for state and local officials to prosecute violations.

If PPU and the Utah Women’s Clinic abortion facility, the original parties in the lawsuit, agree in writing to lifting the injunction, the ban will go into effect. Jensen said he expected that to happen in the next few weeks.

Cassell ordered both sides to issue legal papers in the matter by May 30, which is when the case could be closed and the law authorized.

The Utah legislature approved the ban, SB 69, by lopsided bipartisan margins in both chambers and former Gov. Olene Walker signed the bill into law only on the understanding that it wouldn’t be enforced because of the high court’s ruling.

Sen. Curt Bramble (R), the lead sponsor of the legislation, said years ago that he thought the state ban should be upheld if the federal one got a green light from the Supreme Court.

“If the federal law is upheld, you’d expect our bill to be upheld equally,” Bramble told a Salt Lake newspaper.

In a partial-birth abortion, a child is partly delivered, then killed. A number of doctors say the gruesome practice, in which a baby’s skull is punctured, borders on infanticide.

According to figures from the Utah Health Department, about 3,300 abortions are performed in the state each year. Most of them occur at Utah Women’s Clinic, which also attempts to attract women from surrounding states through its advertising campaign.