In recent years, Utah has enacted several pieces of commonsense legislation designed to protect women and the unborn from the harms inherent in abortion, fulfilling the public policy of the state “to encourage all persons to respect the right to life.”
- Utah legislature has resolved that “it is the finding and policy of the Legislature…that unborn children have inherent and inalienable rights that are entitled to protection by the state of Utah pursuant to the provisions of the Utah Constitution…The state of Utah has a compelling interest in the protection of the lives of unborn children…It is the intent of the Legislature to protect and guarantee to unborn children their inherent and inalienable right to life…”
- Moreover, the legislature has found and declared that “it is the public policy of this state to encourage all persons to respect the right to life of all other persons, regardless of age, development, condition or dependency, including all…unborn persons.”
- Utah prohibits partial-birth abortion throughout pregnancy under a law which has been litigated and upheld in federal court. Although modeled after the federal ban, Utah’s law provides harsher penalties.
- Utah prohibits post-viability abortions except in cases of life endangerment, “serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function,” severe fetal abnormality as certified by two physicians, or rape or incest reported to the police. Performing a prohibited abortion is a felony.
- A physician may not perform an abortion on a woman until at least 72 hours after informing her, in a face-to-face consultation, of the probable gestational age of her unborn child, fetal development, the nature of, risks of, and alternatives to the proposed abortion procedure; that adoptive parents may legally pay the costs of prenatal care, and the medical risks of carrying the pregnancy to term.
- If an ultrasound is performed before an abortion, the abortion provider must offer to show it to the woman.
- Additionally, Utah requires that a woman seeking abortion at 5-months or 20-weeks gestation or later be offered anesthesia for the unborn child (because of the pain experience by a child by this stage of development).
- Utah prohibits and criminalizes acts intended to coerce a woman into undergoing an abortion. The state also requires abortion providers to affirmatively state in printed materials that it is illegal for someone to coerce a woman into having an abortion.
- A physician may not perform an abortion on a minor until the physician obtains the consent of one parent or guardian, unless there is a medical emergency or a minor obtains a court order.
- Utah mandates comprehensive health and safety regulations and an annual licensing requirement for abortion clinics that provide abortions during the first and second trimesters of pregnancy.
- Only a physician or osteopathic physician licensed by the state to practice medicine may perform an abortion. Further, abortion providers must maintain admitting privileges.
- The state has an enforceable abortion reporting law, but does not require the reporting of information to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The measure pertains to both surgical and nonsurgical abortions.
- Utah funds abortions for women eligible for public assistance when necessary to preserve the woman’s life, the woman’s physical health is threatened by a continued pregnancy, or the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.
- No agency of the state or its political subdivisions may approve any application for funds of the state or its political subdivisions to support, directly or indirectly, any organization or healthcare provider that provides abortion services to unmarried minors without written consent of a minor’s parent or guardian.
- Utah prohibits private insurance companies from covering abortion, except in cases of life endangerment, serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of major bodily function, lethal defect of the unborn baby, rape, or incest.
- The state also prohibits insurance companies from offering abortion coverage within state insurance Exchanges established pursuant to the federal healthcare law, except in cases of life endangerment, serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of major bodily function, lethal defect of the unborn baby, rape, or incest.
- Utah has authorized “Choose Life” license plates, the proceeds of which benefit abortion alternatives.
Legal Recognition and Protection of Unborn and Newly Born:
- Under Utah law, the killing of an unborn child at any stage of gestation is defined as a form of homicide.
- The state allows a wrongful death (civil) action only when an unborn child is born alive following a negligent or criminal action and dies thereafter.
- Utah has a “Baby Moses” law, establishing a safe haven for mothers to legally leave their infants at designated places and ensuring the infants receive appropriate care and protection.
- Utah requires substance abuse treatment programs receiving public funds to give priority admission to pregnant women and teenagers. The state also requires healthcare professionals to report suspected prenatal drug exposure.
- Utah Human Services, Child and Family Services Agency regulations include exposure to alcohol or other “harmful” substances in utero in the state’s definitions of “abuse,” “neglect,” and “dependency.”
- The state has removed prohibitions (in certain cases) on the prosecution of a woman for killing her unborn child.
- Utah does not prohibit human cloning, destructive embryo research, or fetal experimentation.
- The state does not promote ethical alternatives to destructive embryo research.
- Utah does not provide any meaningful regulation of egg harvesting or assisted reproductive technologies. Further, state law contains provisions authorizing gestational agreements.
- The “Uniform Parentage Act” includes “donation of embryos” in its definition of “assisted reproduction.”
End of Life Laws:
- Utah does not have a specific statute criminalizing assisted suicide. Thus, the legal status of assisted suicide in Utah is currently indeterminable.