Utah is one step closer to restoring its abortion ban and saving the lives of unborn children.
Lawmakers voted Wednesday to advance a joint resolution that would change court rules to effectively end an injunction on Utah’s abortion trigger law, that was passed before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade to protect babies from abortions.
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. Republicans on the legislative committee voted for the bill while two Democrats and a couple Republicans opposed it.
Abortion providers in Utah have been allowed to continue operating since 3rd District Judge Andrew Stone in July granted Planned Parenthood Association of Utah’s request for a preliminary injunction in its case challenging the state’s abortion trigger law.
In Stone’s order at the time, which put the trigger law on hold, he wrote that Planned Parenthood “has demonstrated that there are at least serious issues on the merits that should be the subject of further litigation.”
If passed, Brammer’s law would make it so judges cannot use that basis to grant such a preliminary injunction. Under a substitution approved by the committee, it would also allow parties — such as the Utah attorney general’s office, which is representing the state in the trigger law case — to ask a judge to reconsider under the resolution whether an injunction should remain in effect.
In a lengthy presentation, the Republican lawmaker told the committee that changing the rule would bring Utah in line with federal standards for issuing an injunction, and that the current rule makes it more likely that laws passed by the Legislature will be held up in court.
“If we were to not pass this, what could very easily happen is anything that is controversial, moving forward, might be presumed constitutional, but it would not go into effect until the Supreme Court then weighs in on it,” Brammer said.
The bill now heads to the full House for consideration.
Meanwhile, pro-life attorneys are still fighting for the abortion ban in court. Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes is fighting court to enforce the state’s trigger law, which will ban 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 ADF attorneys in December with the Utah Supreme Court in Planned Parenthood Association of Utah v. State of Utah on behalf of Utah Eagle Forum in support of the state’s pro-life law, which Planned Parenthood is challenging.
“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. 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.”
As LifeNews previously reported, Utah was one of the first states to ban abortions following the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. John L. Fellows, the general counsel for the Utah Legislature, authored a letter making it clear that the trigger law in Utah is now in effect and abortions are banned in the state — except in very rare cases such as rape or incest, when the baby is severely disabled or to prevent the death of the mother.
Utah S.B. 174, the Abortion Prohibition Amendments, was signed into law by Republican Gov. Gary Herbert in 2020 but only went into effect after the overturning of Roe.
A second law, the Down Syndrome Nondiscrimination Abortion Act signed by Herbert in 2019, will also fully go into effect as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision. It bans killing babies with Down syndrome in abortions.
But Planned Parenthood of Utah filed a lawsuit seeking to block the state’s abortion ban and a judge blocked it. Judge Andrew Stone sided with the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah and the ACLU of Utah during a hearing.
Now, Reyes is asking the Utah Supreme Court for permission to appeal a 3rd District Court judge’s decision that has prevented the pro-life law from saving babies.
And the Utah Supreme Court has granted a petition from the Utah Attorney General’s Office to appeal the injunction of Utah’s abortion ban trigger law. The AG’s office argues that the district court “abused its discretion in preliminarily enjoining SB174″ and is requesting that the Utah Supreme Court reverse this decision.
If granted, the injunction would be overturned, and the elective abortion ban law would be in effect. This does not stop the underlying lawsuit from Planned Parenthood Association of Utah challenging the trigger law. But it does stop killing babies in abortions while the lawsuit continues.
Pro-Life Utah is thanking Reyes for fighting for unborn children.
“After 50 years, on June 24, 2022 Roe V. Wade was overturned. That very day, Utah’s trigger law went into effect, banning almost all elective abortions. Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers immediately stopped killing babies. We celebrated this victory alongside all pro-life Utah’ns,” it told LifeNews in an email.
“However, by Monday, June 27th, Planned Parenthood and the Utah ACLU had filed a lawsuit, and Judge Andrew Stone enjoined the trigger law. This meant that the law would not be in force while the lawsuit went through the court system. Since then, over 800 Utah babies have been killed by abortion due to one judge’s erroneous decision,” it added.
“The Utah Attorney General’s office has consistently worked to protect unborn babies. They previously worked in support of the historic case that overturned Roe. They are currently working hard to defend Utah’s abortion trigger law,” it said.
The petition says “the district court abused its discretion in preliminarily enjoining SB174” and the ruling “should be reversed on interlocutory appeal on this ground alone.”
Reyes says, “Today’s petition is a step in the process to challenge the preliminary injunction and will not resolve the merits of the trigger law case.”
His office is also refuting claims that the state constitution somehow protects a right to kill babies in abortions.
“But, like the U.S. Constitution, the state constitution says nothing about abortion. In fact, ‘such a right was entirely unknown in American law’ until the latter part of the 1900s … Nor is the alleged right otherwise ‘deeply rooted in this nation’s history and tradition,’” the petition states.
“The petition raises important questions about standing, preliminary injunction factors and constitutional interpretation that will affect the parties’ dispute and future cases. More importantly, SB174 involves compelling state interests: the protection and preservation of human life, existing and unborn. The state and the public need a definitive answer now, that only this court can provide, about whether SB174 is enforceable pending resolution of PPAU’s claims,” the 20-page petition states.
As LifeNews reported, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, with a 6-3 majority ruling in the Dobbs case that “The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion” — allowing states to ban abortions and protect unborn babies. The high court also ruled 6-3 uphold the Mississippi 15-week abortion ban so states can further limit abortions and to get rid of the false viability standard.
Chief Justice John Roberts technically voted for the judgment but, in his concurring opinion, disagreed with the reasoning and said he wanted to keep abortions legal but with a new standard.
“Abortion presents a profound moral question. The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion. Roe and Casey arrogated that authority. We now overrule those decisions and return that authority to the people and their elected representatives,” Alito wrote.
“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start. Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences,” Alito wrote. “And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have enflamed debate and deepened division.”
Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer authored a joint dissent condemning the decision as enabling states to enact “draconian” restrictions on women.
Polls show Americans are pro-life on abortion and a new national poll shows 75% of Americans essentially agree with the Supreme Court overturning Roe.
Despite false reports that abortion bans would prevent doctors from treating pregnant women for miscarriages or ectopic pregnancies, pro-life doctors confirm that is not the case. Some 35 states have laws making it clear that miscarriage is not abortion and every state with an abortion ban allows treatment for both.
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