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Post-Viability Abortion Restriction

Utah's post-viability restriction provides that no abortion may be provided after viability unless necessary to preserve the woman's life, to prevent "substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function," to prevent the birth of a child with lethal defects, or if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest that has been reported to law enforcement.  Utah also had an unconstitutional and unenforceable law that prohibited abortion after 20 weeks in certain circumstances.  A court held this provision unconstitutional.  Jane L. v. Bangerter, 61 F.3d 1493 (10th Cir. 1995).  In 2009, Utah revised the law to apply the ban to post-viability abortion only.  Utah Code Ann. § 76-7-302(3) (Original Statute Enacted 1973; Repealed and Reenacted 1974; Last Amended 2010).

Utah has an additional unconstitutional and unenforceable law that provides that if the fetus is sufficiently developed to have any reasonable possibility for survival, the physician must attempt to promote, preserve, and maintain the life of the fetus, consistent with preserving the life of the woman or preventing grave damage to her medical health, and must use the medical procedure most likely to result in fetal survival in the best medical judgment of the physician.  The physician may not use a medical procedure designed to kill or injure the fetus unless necessary to prevent grave damage to the woman's medical health.  Utah Code Ann. §§ 76-7-307 (Original Statute Enacted 1973; Repealed and Reenacted 1974; Last Amended 1991), 76-7-308 (Original Statute Enacted 1973; Repealed and Reenacted 1974; Last Amended 1991).

A court held that these provisions are unconstitutional because they do not adequately protect the health of the woman.  Jane L. v. Bangerter, 61 F.3d 1493 (10th Cir. 1995). 

NARAL Pro-Choice America supports the legal framework established in Roe v. Wade and does not oppose restrictions on post-viability abortion so long as they contain adequate exceptions to protect a woman's life and health.  NARAL Pro-Choice America opposes Utah's post-viability restriction because the health exception is dangerously narrow.  Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, 163 (1973).  

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