Utah Republican Governor Spencer Cox officially signed his name on legislation that will phase out all abortion clinics in the state in the near future. The bill will stop the licensing of new abortion clinics in May of this year and will ban the clinics from being open together starting in January 2024. In addition to the closure of the clinics, the bill will also ban medical providers from prescribing abortion pills to patients. The law will leave in place some leniency for hospitals to perform abortions in cases of rape, incest, fatal fetal anomalies, and when the life of the mother is at risk.
By Katherine Hamilton; March 16, 2023
Utah Gov. Spencer Cox (R) signed a bill on Wednesday that bans all abortion clinics in the state.
Cox signed H.B. 467 after the state Senate passed the bill on March 2 and the state House signed the bill on March 3. The bill stops the licensing of abortion clinics by May of this year and bans the operation of all abortion clinics starting in January 2024. Under the bill, only hospitals are allowed to perform abortions.
“One of the concerns with the trigger bill that medical providers had across the state was there [was] a lack of clarity that would have made it hard for them to perform legal abortions,” Cox said at the time.
Besides banning abortion clinics, the bill makes it a criminal offense for anyone other than doctors licensed in Utah to prescribe abortion pills. The bill also requires physicians to inform a woman that perinatal hospice and perinatal palliative care services are available if her unborn baby has been diagnosed with a “fetal abnormality that is incompatible with life.” The bill additionally outlaws abortions after 18 weeks of pregnancy in cases of rape and incest, and allows doctors who abort unborn babies in violation of state laws to face discipline for unprofessional conduct.
According to the Associated Press, Planned Parenthood lobbyist Jason Stevenson said clinics will no longer be able to perform abortions with their current licenses under the new law.
“They plan to continue, however, to provide the majority of their services such as STI testing, pregnancy testing, cancer screenings and vasectomies. Stevenson said they were ‘looking closely’ at other ‘hospital equivalent’ licensing options laid out in the legislation, but would not say whether the clinics would apply at this point,” according to the report.
“The Utah Hospital Association said no hospitals provided elective abortions in the state last year. It declined to answer questions about whether plans were in place to accommodate additional patients likely to seek care if clinics close,” the report continues.
President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America Alexis McGill Johnson slammed the bill when it first passed the state House:
HB 467 is nothing but shameful procedural and political maneuvering intended to get around a valid court decision and prevent Utahns from accessing abortion. Today’s passage is just one part of a nationwide campaign by anti-abortion extremists to end legal abortion throughout the United States, and it will have devastating impacts on Utah communities.
Pro-Life Utah celebrated the bill’s passage and thanked Gov. Cox for his “commitment to protect the pre-born.”
Utah has a trigger law banning abortions except in cases of rape, incest, fatal fetal anomalies, and when the life of the mother is at risk, but that law is currently blocked during ongoing litigation. For now, abortions are legal in the state up to 18 weeks.