Utah Senate leaders voted Tuesday to add their support to the legal defense of a state law that protects unborn babies from abortion.
The pro-life law, which bans the killing of unborn babies, went into effect after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June. Just days later, however, a judge blocked the state from enforcing the law in response to a lawsuit from Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union.
On Tuesday, Utah Senate President J. Stuart Adams, a pro-life Republican, led the Legislative Management Committee in passing a motion to submit an amicus brief in support of the law to the Utah Supreme Court, Deseret News reports. The vote was 8-7 along party lines.
The brief, which lawyers for the state legislature will write, will urge the high court to lift the temporary injunction and allow the state to enforce the law while the case moves forward, according to the report. The 2020 law bans the killing of unborn babies in abortions. Exceptions are allowed if the mother’s life is at risk, if she’s a victim of rape or incest, or if the unborn baby has a fatal disorder.
Adams said the U.S. Supreme Court “got it right” when the justices overturned Roe in June and began allowing states to protect unborn babies from abortion again, according to the report.
“Human life should be recognized and valued at all ages and stages,” Adams said in a statement Tuesday. “Children deserve protection and the opportunity to live.”
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According to the Salt Lake Tribune, the action is unusual because the state legislature does not often weigh in on legal battles. The report noted: “Although the Legislature is not a party in the pending lawsuit, it has the ability to express its opinion to the court through a ‘friend of the court’ brief. Taking that action, however, is rare.”
State Sen. Dan McCay, R-Riverton, the lead sponsor of the law, said Utah should be allowed to protect unborn babies’ right to life after the “monumental victory” at the Supreme Court in June.
The overturning of Roe “was a monumental victory for human life. We will continue to vigorously defend the unborn and prohibit elective abortion, standing up for those who cannot defend themselves,” McCay said in a statement.
Looking to 2023, Adams said lawmakers have more plans to support families and protect children, born and unborn, in the next legislative session.
“My commitment to life does not end at birth,” he said in a statement after the vote. “We are working to make adoption easier in Utah. By enhancing resources, we can eliminate barriers to adoption and provide financial support to expecting mothers. Together, we must work to protect and defend every life — mothers, children and families.”
In September, Pro-Life Utah estimated approximately 696 unborn babies have been killed in abortions since Judge Andrew Stone issued an injunction prohibiting state authorities from enforcing the law. Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes is challenging the ruling.
That same month, a group of state lawmakers sent a letter to abortion providers, abortion funds and others who assist with abortions, warning that, even though the law is blocked, they still may be prosecuted in the future for the unborn babies who are being aborted now.
Planned Parenthood did temporarily stop killing babies in Utah this summer after filing its lawsuit against the state pro-life law. However, it appears to have begun again as a result of the judge’s order.