A state court judge in Utah on Monday blocked a sweeping new abortion ban from taking effect following the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling last month eliminating the nearly 50-year-old constitutional right to abortion.
Judge Andrew Stone of the Third Judicial District Court for Salt Lake City ruled at a hearing that the ban, which prohibited abortion at any point during pregnancy with a handful of exceptions, must remain on hold while Planned Parenthood pursues a legal challenge.
"When you're talking about a seismic change in women's health treatment, it's prudent to look before you leap," Stone said.
Planned Parenthood had sued to block the law on June 25, the day after it originally took effect, and Stone on June 27 temporarily blocked the law until he could hear arguments on it. Planned Parenthood argued that the law violated Utah's constitution.
Utah was one of 13 states that imposed an immediate ban on abortions under a so-called "trigger law" designed to take effect when the Supreme Court overruled its 1973 precedent in Roe v. Wade recognizing a constitutional right to abortion, which it did on June 24.
About half of U.S. states are ultimately expected to restrict or ban abortion after the Supreme Court's decision. Many have faced legal challenges, but most of those have been unsuccessful, with courts allowing new laws to take effect in states including Mississippi, Texas and Florida.
Utah's ban included exceptions if the mother was at risk of death or permanent injury and for severe fetal abnormalities.
It also included an exception in cases of rape or incest, but only if they are reported to the police. Most sexual assaults are not reported, according to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, a leading nonprofit anti-sexual assault organization.
© 2023 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.