Utah Installs Nation’s First 72-Hour Abortion Waiting Period

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 7, 2012   |   4:29PM   |   Salt Lake City, UT

This week, Utah officials are implementing the nation’s first law that requires women to wait 72 hours before having an abortion that will destroy the life of an unborn child. Abortion advocates are up in arms about the new law, that allows women considering an abortion a greater period of time for reflection and time to find abortion alternatives.

“For some people that may be a point of celebration,” said Planned Parenthood of Utah Director Karrie Galloway. “For others it may be a point of heartache.”

“The reality of doing a legal challenge is daunting — the cost and time, all of that,” Galloway said. “We will be looking at it to see how it affects people, how it affects our providers as well as women.”

Technically, South Dakota became the first to pass a 72-hour abortion waiting period law but the courts struck it down as unconstitutional. Many other states have waiting period laws in effect but none of them go past 24 hours. The Planned Parenthood abortion business has not yet ruled out a lawsuit against the measure.

Gayle Ruzicka, head of the Utah Eagle Forum, told the Salt Lake tribune she thinks the law will be upheld if challenged in court.

“We made sure we didn’t have anything in that bill that would be challenged,” Ruzicka said. “Every concern that Planned Parenthood or the ACLU or anybody had, we fixed.”

GOP Rep. Steve Eliason says the new law is helpful for women and for protecting unborn children.

“I think it’s a positive change for women and children,” said Eliason. “At the end of the day, it’s a consumer-protection law. The focus of this bill is women having time to consider all of the information that is given to them when facing a life-altering decision that somebody else is making money off of.”

Eliason says there are waiting period laws for a host of things ranging from adoptions to mortgage approvals to divorce and a waiting period law before someone can end the life of an unborn child seems to make even more sense.



Planned Parenthood complains that it is trying to comply with the law but worries it will be found in noncompliance because the state has not written clear guidelines for implementing the law.

The South Dakota law prohibits the scheduling of an abortion unless the mother first obtains a screening for coercion by a physician and then obtains certain counseling and an assessment for coercion at a pregnancy help center. No abortion can be performed less than 72 hours after the physician’s initial assessment so the mother can have the information and time to make an informed, voluntary decision.

Alliance Defense Fund allied attorney Harold Cassidy says Planned Parenthood is more interested in selling abortions than helping women.

“If Planned Parenthood truly cared about the well-being of women, it would not try to rush them into the abortion chamber before determining that her decision is not being coerced,” Cassidy said. “This law ensures that women have a chance to get accurate information and counseling from those who seek to protect the mother’s true rights. The requirement of a 72-hour waiting period is essential to ensure her decision is voluntary and informed.”