Aug 9, 2023 - Health

Utah Supreme Court reviews abortion ban; judge notes historical omission of women's voices

Illustration of a caduceus turning into a gavel.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

As the Utah Supreme Court reviewed the pending abortion ban Tuesday, attorneys defending the ban asked the five justices to focus on the intentions of the delegates who drafted the state constitution more than a century ago.

  • "There is an unbroken history and tradition … before 1973, of prohibiting abortion. And that unbroken history has to be part of this Court's analysis, rather than present-day policy arguments about the benefits or the or lack thereof of abortion," attorney Taylor Meehan argued.

Yes, but: Not all Utahns were included at the 1895 convention, Judge Paige Petersen noted.

  • "Women were in the audience, but they weren't any of the delegates," Petersen said.
  • "How do we know … what they thought the meaning of their rights were?" Peterson asked. "It seems important in this context because women are the ones that experience pregnancy and experience childbirth."

Details: The state is asking the court to overturn a year-old injunction that's blocking Utah's trigger law, which banned almost all abortions when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

  • A judge in July ruled the implications for patients' rights were too serious for the ban to take effect while a lawsuit by the ACLU and Planned Parenthood Association of Utah remained unresolved.

What's next: It could be days or weeks before the Utah Supreme Court rules on whether to lift the injunction and allow the ban to take effect, the AP reported Tuesday.


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