Utah bans most abortions after 18 weeks

Pregnant Credit Unsplash CNA Unsplash.

Utah governor Gary Herbert signed a new law this week to prohibit most abortions after 18 weeks of pregnancy.

The "Cherish Act," signed into law March 26, is expected to take effect in May.

The law, sponsored by Rep. Cheryl Acton of Salt Lake City, includes exceptions to allow abortions for pregnancies resulting from rape and incest; or if a doctor determines that the fetus is not viable or has a lethal defect; or if there is "a serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the woman on whom the abortion is performed."

Several pro-abortion organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood, have already announced their intention to challenge the new law in court, calling it unconstitutional.

Herbert also signed a law late last week banning abortions done solely due to a prenatal Down syndrome diagnosis. Similar laws have been struck down in the past in several other states. In anticipation of a legal challenge, the Utah law will only go into effect if a similar law is upheld in court elsewhere, the Associated Press reports.

Utah currently has a 72-hour waiting period for abortions and had previously passed legislation to ban abortions after fetal viability, around 22 weeks of pregnancy.

Susan B. Anthony List, a national group that advocates for pro-life laws and elected officials, praised the Utah lawmakers' efforts.

"We thank Governor Herbert and state lawmakers for making bold strides to protect unborn children and their mothers," said SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser in a March 27 statement.

"In Utah and around the country, momentum is growing to humanize our extreme abortion laws, which currently allow abortion on demand through birth and even beyond. Science and compassion are on the same side in this endeavor," she said.

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson signed a similar 18-week abortion ban into law March 15.

Several other states, including Tennessee and Georgia, are pursuing legislation to ban abortions after a fetal heatbeat can be detected; Mississippi governor Phil Bryan signed a "heartbeat bill" into law last week. Judges have already blocked similar laws from going into effect in Kentucky and Iowa.

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