Utah’s abortion trigger law does not violate Utah’s Constitution, lawyers representing the state told a state judge Thursday, and it should go back into effect.
The new court filing is available below.
The trigger law — passed by the Utah Legislature in 2020 as SB174 — bans abortions in Utah, except in a few limited circumstances. It briefly went into effect after the U.S. Supreme Court overruled Roe vs. Wade on June 24.
But enforcement of the law has been blocked since June 27, when 3rd District Judge Andrew Stone granted a temporary request from Planned Parenthood Association of Utah to stop the law from going into effect for two weeks. When that happened, another law banning abortions in the state after 18 weeks of pregnancy went into place.
A few days later, Planned Parenthood asked the judge to grant a preliminary injunction, to keep the trigger law on hold until the organization’s lawsuit challenging the statute is resolved.
The state filed its reply on Thursday to that request.
“The Utah Constitution does not expressly protect a right to abortion,” according to the state’s memorandum. “... Nor does the Utah Constitution protect an implied abortion right.”
According to the filing, “laws prohibiting abortion in Utah are older than the State itself,” and were in place until Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973.
Today, Utah’s trigger law does not violate the state constitution, the state argues, and the Legislature passed the law “with one overriding purpose: the protection of human life, rooted in moral conviction about the worth of each unborn child.”
Another hearing is scheduled in the case on July 11.
Timeline of Utah’s abortion laws
March 2019: Utah Legislature passes HB136, banning abortions after 18 weeks of pregnancy.
April 2019: Planned Parenthood Association of Utah sues, challenging the constitutionality of the 18-week ban. A federal judge issues an injunction that keeps the law from being enforced while that case is pending.
March 2020: Utah Legislature passes SB174, creating a trigger law that would ban most abortions in the Beehive State if the U.S. Supreme Court ever overturned Roe v. Wade.
Morning of June 24, 2022: U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.
Evening of June 24, 2022: Utah’s trigger law (SB174) goes into effect.
June 25, 2022: Planned Parenthood Association of Utah sues, arguing trigger law violates rights in Utah Constitution.
June 27, 2022: An emergency court hearing is held. A state judge grants a temporary restraining order, blocking the trigger law from being enforced for two weeks. Meanwhile, the federal lawsuit over the 18-week ban is dismissed.
June 28, 2022: Utah’s 18-week ban goes into effect, while trigger law is on hold.