Utah is about to break new ground this week with a new law scheduled to go into effect on Tuesday that will force women seeking a safe, legal abortion to endure the country’s longest waiting period between her first visit to a clinic and the time of the actual procedure. Although South Dakota was the first to pass a 72-hour rule, their law was blocked by the courts before it could ever go into effect.
It’s appears likely that unlike in South Dakota, abortion providers in Utah may take a “wait and see” attitude to discern exactly how the law affects women seeking an abortion, rather than sue for an injunction immediately. But that doesn’t mean they think it’s a constitutional — or even enforceable — law.
Via the Salt Lake Tribune:
[Planned Parenthood of Utah Director Karrie] Galloway said the way the law was written, no one is in charge of overseeing compliance or writing rules so that everyone knows what is required under the statute.
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“We’re left with a system that right now puts the burden — in fact a possible criminal burden — on the physician providing the procedure with no verifiable process for confirming the informed consent.”
The Utah Department of Health’s Nan Streeter confirms that the law gives her agency no oversight authority.
“We talked with our attorney and also with the deputy director of the department to ask about what we were responsible for, and the way the law was written, the only authority the Department of Health has is related to the development of the abortion consent materials,” said Streeter, deputy director of the Division of Family Health and Preparedness. “There’s no provision for the department to either enforce or oversee the consent process.”
Placing criminal burder on an abortion provider without providing clear oversight of exactly what he or she has to do in order to protect him or herself from charges? That sounds quite a bit like nearly every other piece of anti-choice legislation, determined to create a process so laden with potential legal pitfalls that no doctor will feel comfortable providing abortions.