SALT LAKE CITY (OSV News) — A new law in Utah prohibits licensing of abortion clinics after May 2. In addition, the law states that no abortion clinic may operate in the state on or after Jan. 1, 2024. Under the new law, abortions may only be performed in hospitals, with some exceptions.
Under HB 467, which Gov. Spencer Cox signed into law March 15, also modifies provisions that govern what constitutes a medical emergency in relation to an abortion, and modifies the conditions under which an abortion may be performed to protect the life or health of the mother. It also repeals a previous statute that established a prohibition on abortions after 18 weeks and incorporates its contents into existing statute.
Abortions may be performed only if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, if the mother is at risk of death or serious physical risk of substantial — and irreversible — impairment of a major bodily function, is under the age of 14 or if the unborn child has a fetal abnormality that is deemed to be incompatible with life.
The attending physician is required to inform the mother that perinatal hospice and perinatal palliative care services are available and are an alternative to abortion. Only a licensed physician may prescribe an abortion-related drug for the purpose of causing an abortion.
On March 14 Cox signed another bill into law — HB 297, titled Victim Services Amendments. This offers improved support to victims of sexual assault, requires more reporting from doctors performing abortions under the rape exception, and also limits abortion in the case of rape or incest to 18 weeks.
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception,” because from this first moment of existence a human being has the inviolable right to life. The catechism notes that “since the first century the church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion” because of the sacredness of human life.
For Catholics, there are no exceptions to the ban on abortions, but the Church provides several resources to help pregnant women who need support. Two years ago, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops developed the “Walking With Moms in Need” program, which several parishes in the Diocese of Salt Lake City have begun implementing. The program enables parish communities to get to know the moms and connect them with services based on their needs.
In addition, the diocese has Project Rachel, which offers help and healing for those affected by abortion.
Linda Petersen writes for Intermountain Catholic, newspaper of the Diocese of Salt Lake City.