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Utah Supreme Court considers arguments on the block of Utah’s abortion “trigger law”

by | Aug 9, 2023

By Dave Andrusko

After over four hours of intense scrutiny, the Utah Supreme Court will now decide whether a lower court’s injunction blocking the state’s trigger law will continueOn June 26, 2022, Third District Judge Andrew Stone granted a request from Planned Parenthood Association of Utah to issue a temporary restraining order—later an injunction–blocking enforcement of Utah’s trigger law.

Tuesday’s hearing was over whether the lower court was correct in issuing the injunction, not the constitutionality of the law itself. The state’s attorney, Taylor Meehan, argued the injunction should be overturned while Camila Vega, representing Planned Parenthood, maintained the injunction should remain place.

According to the Associated Press Meehan told the court, “When given the choice, the people of Utah, through their elected representatives, have prohibited abortion except in limited circumstances since before the state’s founding.” She added, “Dobbs returned that question to the people and their elected representatives. There is no constitutional text, history or common law tradition that can support it, and yet the state’s law has been under stay for one year and 28 days, allowing thousands of abortions to proceed.”

Sen. Dan McCay, the sponsor of the trigger law, said, “We care about the unborn. We want to protect life and we’ve tried to build a law that does prohibit elective abortions and does anything to protect women who have been victims of rape and have medical emergencies that need to be cared for.”

Chief Justice Matthew Durrant asked Camila Vega, the attorney representing Planned Parenthood, “Your argument is an abortion may be necessary to exercise other rights that are explicitly enumerated in the Utah Constitution?”

Vega replied “That’s correct your honor,” adding later, “Regardless of what people thought about abortion in 1895, equality today for the women of Utah requires access to abortion.”

The trigger law would protect unborn children with narrow exceptions such as when the child has a fatal fetal condition, cases of rape or incest, or when the mother’s life is at risk. It went into effect in June 2022 but was quickly blocked by Judge Stone.

Categories: State Legislation