Utah lawmakers tee up a court fight with passage of an 18-week abortion ban

This article originally appeared in the Salt Lake Tribune. Read it in its entirety here.

Republican Utah senators were undaunted by the near-certainty of lawsuits and an uphill battle through the courts as they voted 23-6 along party lines Wednesday evening to ban elective abortions after 18 weeks of fetal development.

A bipartisan majority of their House counterparts had voted last month to approve the bill, HB136, and Spanish Fork Republican Sen. Deidre Henderson — the bill’s Senate sponsor — argued that it preserved a woman’s right to have an abortion for any reason before 18 weeks, while expanding the exceptions for a legal procedure beyond that deadline.

“I’m very proud that we here in the state of Utah value life,” Henderson said.

But within minutes of the Senate’s vote, a left-leaning advocacy organization, Planned Parenthood and the ACLU were warning of lawsuits against the state on constitutional grounds.

“It will now head to the Governor’s office,” read a tweet from the Planned Parenthood Action Council of Utah, “and if he signs it, we will be fighting this in court.”

In a party line vote, @utahsenate just passed the 18-week abortion ban. It will now head to the Governor’s office, and if he signs it, we will be fighting this in court.

If HB136 is signed into law,” the ACLU of Utah warned, the organization “together with our partners in the state, will pursue a lawsuit in federal court to stop this violation of a woman’s constitutionally protected right to an abortion.”

The Alliance for a Better Utah also issued a statement on HB136, saying Utahns can expect to see their tax dollars “burned up in litigation” instead of supporting health care and educational efforts that could decrease abortions and miscarriages in the state.

“If the Legislature wants a pro-life policy, this bill isn’t it,” said Better Utah policy director Lauren Simpson.

This article originally appeared in the Salt Lake Tribune. Read it in its entirety here.

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