Utah Governor Spencer Cox on Wednesday signed legislation to ban abortion clinics in his state. File Photo by Chris Kleponis/UPI | License Photo
March 16 (UPI) -- Utah Gov. Spencer Cox has signed legislation banning all abortion clinics in the state by the start of next year, making it the latest Republican-led state to restrict the medical procedure following the overturning of Roe vs. Wade.
The Republican governor signed H.B. 467 Abortion Changes on Wednesday, after it passed easily through the Utah legislature.
The controversial bill requires that abortions only be performed at facilities that meet the definition of a hospital, while banning the licensing of abortion clinics from May 3. All existing abortions clinics must close by Jan. 1, or when their license expires if that happens first.
The legislation also includes numerous other changes to abortion laws, including removing exceptions for rape and incest on receiving an abortion after the state's current limit of 18 weeks of a pregnancy.
"Thank you, Gov. Cox for singing this bill into Law," Pro-Life Utah said in a statement. "We value your commitment to protect the pre-born."
Opponents to the bill have described the measure as functionally eliminating abortion access in the state and a workaround to restrict the medical procedure as its trigger abortion ban was blocked by the courts.
Utah had passed a near-total abortion ban in 2020 that went into effect after the conservative-leaning Supreme Court revoked federal protections for abortion by overturning the landmark 1973 Roe vs. Wade ruling last summer. However, the rule was put on ice after Planned Parenthood argued it violated the state's Constitution.
"HB 467 is nothing but shameful procedural and political maneuvering intended to get around a valid court decision and prevent Utahns from accessing abortion," Alexis McGill Johnson, president and chief executive officer for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement after the bill passed the legislature earlier this month.
"Today's passage is just one of a nationwide campaign by anti-abortion extremists to end legal abortion throughout the United States, and it will have devastating impacts on Utah communities."
Many Republican-led states have sought to either restrict or outright ban abortion following the overturning of Roe vs. Wade, while some Democratic states have moved to enshrine abortion as a fundamental right in response.