Feb 17, 2023 - Politics

Utah Gov. Cox supports proposal to ban abortion clinics

Photo illustration of Utah Governor Spencer Cox with lines radiating from him.

Photo illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios. Photo: Office of Gov. Spencer Cox

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox (R) said on Thursday that he supports a bill that would close all abortion clinics statewide.

Details: HB 467, co-sponsored by state Rep. Karianne Lisonbee (R-Clearfield), would instead require abortions to be performed in hospitals "with limited exceptions."

  • The proposed legislation would bar the state from issuing licenses for abortion clinics starting in May and close all existing abortion facilities by 2024.
  • Meanwhile, another abortion bill is making progress in the Legislature. HB 297, co-sponsored by state Rep. Kera Birkeland (R-Morgan), would require doctors to maintain verification records to determine whether victims of rape or incest seeking an abortion reported the crime to police.
  • Of note: Utah's abortion "trigger" law, which went into effect last year after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, requires rape or incest victims to report their sexual assaults to authorities to get an abortion. That law is currently on hold as it faces ongoing litigation.
  • Both pieces of legislation, if passed, would also prevent victims of sexual assault or incest from having access to abortions after 18 weeks of pregnancy.

The latest: The abortion-related bills passed the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday on party-line votes.

What they're saying: During his monthly PBS Utah press conference, Cox said the 18-week timeline "gives plenty of time" and "people will have an opportunity to get an abortion."

The other side: Utah House Democrats said they were disappointed that both measures received approval.

  • "Forcing clinics to close and requiring people to seek all abortion care at Utah's hospitals will not only limit access to abortion, but also other types of reproductive health care," they wrote in a statement released Wednesday.
  • They also added that HB 297 "fails to help and empower victims."

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