Price Tag Dissuades Utah Legislators from Abortion Ban

Emily Douglas

Finally, the economic downturn delivers a silver lining for America's women: legislators in Utah, who are gung-ho about an abortion ban, aren't going to pursue one in this legislative session because of the cost associated with defending the ban in court.

Finally, the economic downturn delivers a silver lining for America’s women: legislators in Utah, who are gung-ho about an abortion ban, aren’t going to pursue one in this legislative session because of the cost associated with defending the ban in court.

Legislators say defending a ban, which would outlaw abortion except in cases of rape, incest, and permanent physical damage to the woman, would cost $2 million to $7 million in court, and say the state does not have the funds to defend it this year.

A private organization has offered to defend the ban, but the case would still be overseen by the Attorney General Mark Shurtleff. Because he can’t defend the ban he’s "passionate" about now, Shurtleff has proposed creating a fund that will raise money to cover the cost of the law’s defense.

"We are looking at wanting
to ban abortion in Utah, period, end of story. However, we want to do
it correctly," Rep. Carl Wimmer told the Salt Lake Tribune. "We’re not going to
back away from abortion. We’re never going to let it die."

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Missy Bird, executive director of the Planned Parenthood Action Committee, observes that the money could be spent to provide services that reduce unintended pregnancy rather than to defend an unconstitutional law: 

"[Bird] wishes the
Legislature instead would focus discussions on matters such as proposed
cuts in Medicaid to pregnant women, the end of the Baby Your Baby
program and eliminating the Medicaid cancer program, which helps
low-income women pay their medical bills to fight breast and ovarian
cancer.

"Wouldn’t it be incredible," Bird said, "if this state set up
public funds to do those things instead of set up public funds to
defend abortion laws?"

 

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