Utah Abortion Laws

Abortion is one of the most controversial topics and, sadly, is often used as a pawn in political games. No matter what your personal feelings on the subject are, it’s good to know what the law is in your state. Utah has highly restrictive abortion laws that may have affected its extremely low abortion rate (only 2,893 in 2013), although greater availability of birth control may also be to thank for that.

The abortion regulations in Utah are relatively restrictive compared to those of most other states. As the only abortion clinics in the state are in Salt Lake County, it may be easier for residents in the southern part of Utah to drive to Las Vegas, Nevada for some reproductive health care services.

The following table outlines the main parts of the Utah abortion laws.

Code Sections Utah Code Title 76, Chapter 7, Part 3: Abortion
Statutory Definition of Illegal Abortion Utah law describes an illegal abortion as one that:
  1. Fails to meet the standards for a legal abortion
  2. Coercing someone to have abortion
  3. Intentional termination of human pregnancy including all procedures undertaken to kill alive, unborn child or produce a miscarriage
  4. Partial Birth Abortion after viability
  5. Dilation and extraction abortions
  6. Saline abortions
However, if all other available abortion procedures would pose a risk a risk to the life or health of the pregnant woman or time doesn’t permit other options due to a serious medical emergency, then partial birth, saline, or dilation and extraction procedures can be performed.
Statutory Definition of Legal Abortion An abortion is legal in Utah if it’s done before viability, or if able to live outside the womb, it’s necessary to save the woman’s life or health, if she’s a victim of raped or incest that resulted in the fetus, or the fetus has a uniformly diagnosable and lethal defect.
Informed Consent Requirements The patient herself must be given informed consent for the procedure. The doctor must provide the woman with abortion information, including required printed materials and video about abortion, at least 24 hours before procedure except in a medical emergency.
Waiting Period In Utah, individuals seeking abortions must wait 72 hours after being given informed consent of the abortion procedure to actually have the procedure done.
Parental Notification Minors under 18 years old are required to provide notice of getting an abortion to their parents or guardians, if the minor is unmarried. However, if that isn’t possible or safe for them, the court can order an abortion without parental consent.
Spousal Notification The U.S. Supreme Court determined spousal notification laws are unconstitutional in 1992.
Residency Requirements for Patients There isn’t a residency requirement in Utah or elsewhere as Doe v. Bolton in 1973 (the companion case to Roe v. Wade) decided that unconstitutionally denied out-of-state residents medical care in the state.
Penalty for Unlawful Abortion If a doctor or clinic violates these abortion laws, it’s typically a Class A misdemeanor that can be punished by not more than a year in jail and a $2,500 fine. However, performing a partial birth or saline abortion, except in a medical emergency, is a third degree felony. A third degree felony can be penalized by up to five years in prison and at most a $5,000 fine. Finally, killing an unborn child during an illegal abortion is a second degree felony that’s penalized by 1 to 15 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

If a doctor doesn’t provide the mandatory informed consent then it is "unprofessional conduct," which means his or her medical license could be revoked or suspended.
Physician Licensing Requirements
A licensed physician, either a medical doctor or osteopath doctor, must provide abortion services and the attending physician must concur with the procedure.

If you’re being denied the right to reproductive health care in Utah, including contraceptives or abortions, you should speak with an experienced Utah health care attorney or constitutional rights attorney.

Note: As you may know, state laws get updated by legislators, voters, and the Supreme Court constantly, especially in an area as controversial as abortion. It’s important to verify these reproductive right laws by contacting a lawyer or conducting your own legal research.

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