LWV Utah filed an amicus brief in the Utah Supreme Court supporting a lawsuit by Planned Parenthood of Utah seeking to overturn the state’s abortion ban. The complaint argued the ban violated Utahn’s rights to determine their family composition and to parent, equal protection of the laws, uniform operation of the law, bodily autonomy, freedom from involuntary servitude, conscience, and to privacy under the state constitution.
In 2020, the Utah Legislature enacted a ban on abortion that would take effect if Roe v. Wade were overturned by the United States Supreme Court. On June 24, 2022, the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, abolishing the federal right to an abortion. As a result, the ban took effect shortly thereafter.
The new abortion ban forbids all abortions in Utah with several narrow exceptions. Abortions may only be performed if necessary to prevent the death or if there is, “serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function” of the mother. Abortions are also permitted if a pregnancy is the result of rape or incest and reported to law enforcement. Beyond these exceptions, any person who violates the ban is guilty of a second-class felony, punishable by one to fifteen years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
On June 25, 2022, Planned Parenthood of Utah filed a lawsuit in the Third Judicial District Court for Salt Lake County, arguing the ban violated the right to choose one’s family composition and to parent, equal protection of the laws, uniform operation of the laws, bodily autonomy, freedom from involuntary servitude, conscience, and privacy protected under Utah state law.
On July 19, 2022, the court issued a preliminary injunction, barring the law from taking effect until appeals were resolved.
On January 26, 2023, the League of Women Voters of Utah and 39 business leaders filed an amicus brief supporting Planned Parenthood, arguing the ban violated the Utah Constitution’s guarantees of equal rights for men and women and detailed the harms the new law visited upon women and children.
The League is represented in this matter by Linda Faye Smith.
Utah enacts abortion ban
The Utah Legislature enacts a near-total abortion ban, which will come into effect if the United States Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. The law nearly bans abortion completely, allowing exceptions to save the mother’s life, prevent “substantial and irreversible impairment” of a major bodily function, and for pregnancies resulting from rape and incest that are reported to law enforcement.
United States Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade
In a decision overturning 50 years of precedent, the Supreme Court overrules Roe v. Wade, declaring there is no federal right to abortion and allowing states to impose abortion bans.
Planned Parenthood Utah files complaint
Planned Parenthood of Utah sues in state court, arguing the ban violates the rights of Utahans to choose one’s family composition and to parent, equal protection of the laws, uniform operation of the laws, bodily autonomy, freedom from involuntary servitude, conscience, and privacy protected under Utah state law.
Court issues preliminary injunction
The court grants a preliminary injunction, finding that the plaintiff is likely to succeed in proving substantial harm, given the consequences of banning abortion on Planned Parenthood Utah and its patients and staff. Among the harms cited by the court are the costs of traveling outside Utah for abortions, the emotional and physical risk of being forced to carry unwanted pregnancies to term, and unsafe self-induced abortions.
Utah Supreme Court grants appeal
The Utah Supreme Court grants the state’s appeal of the trial court’s preliminary injunction.
LWV Utah files amicus brief
LWV Utah, along with 39 other business leaders, file an amicus brief supporting the plaintiffs. The brief asserts the ban violates Utah’s protections of equal rights for men and women and will cause significant harm to women and children and hurt Utah’s economy.
Utah supreme court holds oral argument
The court holds oral arguments on whether the trial court's decision to enter a preliminary injunction enjoining the abortion ban should be reversed.