H.B. 205 has been an extremely contentious bill since its introduction this session, including during both its committee hearing and on the floor of the House. Understandably so because abortion-related legislation is always a contentious topic up on Capitol Hill. Regardless of the underlying merits of the bill’s strictures, Better Utah is opposed to this bill because of its probable unconstitutionality and the financial consequences it would have on our state.
When it was introduced, the Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel (the Legislature’s lawyers) attached a “legislative review note” to H.B. 205. This note stated that “there is a high probability that the [Supreme Court] would find the proposed
legislation unconstitutional.” This is because the Court has consistently upheld a woman’s constitutional right to a previability abortion, and because a federal court in Indiana had already found a similar law to be unconstitutional.
Testifying to the bill, the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah warned lawmakers that should this bill become law, it would immediately sue to overturn the law. The ACLU of Utah also warned that its organization had brought suit in other states. If the state had to defend this law in court, it could cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands, or perhaps millions of dollars in legal fees.
Passing H.B. 205 would be reckless and irresponsible when faced with the large amount of public funds that would go towards its defense, especially when contrasted to the annual scramble to find money for education, transportation, and other issues.
On February 7, 2018, we sent a letter to Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes to request his office provide an estimate of the legal costs that would be required if this bill were passed into law and then challenged in court. As of yet, we have still not received an answer from the Attorney General. Read the letter below: