Utah Committee Passes Bill Banning All Abortion Clinics

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Feb 16, 2023   |   12:59PM   |   Salt Lake City, Utah

A bill to ban abortion facilities in Utah advanced in the state House on Wednesday as lawmakers strive to protect unborn babies and mothers from abortion.

Salt Lake Tribune reports the House Judiciary Committee passed two pro-life bills, including House Bill 467 to ban the operation and licensing of abortion facilities in the state; the vote was 9-2.

The sponsor, state Rep. Karianne Lisonbee, R-Clearfield, said her legislation “strikes the very best balance of protecting innocent life and protecting women who experience rare and dangerous circumstances.”

The bill prohibits abortion facilities from operating in Utah starting in 2024 and prohibits state authorities from granting licenses to abortion facilities starting May 2. It also requires abortions that are allowed under the law to be performed in hospitals, and it allows doctors who abort unborn babies in violation of state law to face discipline for unprofessional conduct.

Utah has a trigger law that bans killing unborn babies in abortions, but a court recently blocked it. Unborn babies still are being aborted in the state as the lawsuit proceeds. In the meantime, state lawmakers like Lisonbee have introduced a number of pro-life bills to create additional protections for unborn babies and their mothers.

Here’s more from the report:

[Her bill] would make several other adjustments to the blocked abortion law, including requiring that all abortions performed to preserve the life of the mother are done “by means of labor rather than in utero, unless the induction of labor poses an unacceptably higher risk to the mother than other methods.” The bill also redefines what constitutes a “medical emergency” under which an abortion may be performed.

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The CEO of the Utah Medical Association, Michelle McOmber, and Gabby Saunders, a lobbyist for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, both thanked Lisonbee for working with OB-GYNs on the new definition, which is more clear for doctors who may be unsure about when they can legally provide an abortion.

McOmber and others raised concerns that because it is “cheaper to do an abortion in an abortion clinic,” the hospital requirement could put an additional financial burden on pregnant mothers, according to the report.

Responding, state Rep. Kera Birkeland’s, R-Morgan, the author of a second pro-life bill, said she plans to introduce legislation to require insurance companies to cover abortions in the rare cases when the mother’s life is at risk “because there are times when it truly is necessary,” the report continues.

Earlier this week, Utah lawmakers also advanced a joint resolution that would change court rules to effectively end an injunction on the state abortion banState Rep. Brady Brammer, a Republican, sponsored the bill to retroactively eliminate a judge’s ability to grant a preliminary injunction unless a case has a “substantial likelihood” of success. That would retroactively allow Utah to ask the courts to reconsider their decision to block the trigger ban while the lawsuit against it continues.

Meanwhile, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes is fighting court to enforce the trigger law, which bans abortions and protect the lives of unborn babies.

Alliance Defending Freedom Legal Counsel Julia Payne told LifeNews that her group filed a friend-of-the-court brief in December with the Utah Supreme Court in the case, Planned Parenthood Association of Utah v. State of Utah, on behalf of Utah Eagle Forum.

“Utah is eager to affirm that life is a human right and, to that end, the state has enacted a pro-life law protecting that most fundamental of rights for the unborn,” Payne said. “Pro-life laws like Utah’s also help women by ensuring they have the support they need during a difficult time in their lives. Women deserve access to real health care, not the dangerous and unnecessary procedures Planned Parenthood peddles to make a profit. We are pleased to join in supporting Utah’s effort to protect the lives of unborn children and mothers and urge the state’s high court to reverse the trial court’s injunction halting Utah’s pro-life law.”