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Restrictions on Low-Income Women's Access to Abortion

Utah restricts low-income women's access to abortion.

In 2004, Utah enacted a law prohibiting public funding for abortion unless:  (1) the abortion is necessary to preserve the woman's life; (2) the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest reported to law-enforcement agencies, except if the woman was unable to report the crime for physical reasons or fear of retaliation; or (3) the abortion is necessary to "prevent permanent, irreparable, and grave damage to a major bodily function" of the pregnant woman, provided that a caesarian section or other medical procedure is not a viable option to also save the life of the fetus.  Utah Code Ann. § 76-7-331 (Enacted 2004);  Utah Admin. Code § R414-1B; Utah Department of Health, Utah Medicaid Informational Bulletins, Provider Manuals/.  

Women who are eligible for state medical assistance for general health care may receive public funding for abortion only if the provider obtains prior authorization and:  (1) two physicians certify that the procedure is necessary to preserve the life of a woman endangered by a physical disorder, physical injury, or physical illness, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself; or (2) the pregnancy is less than 20 weeks gestation and the result of rape or incest reported to law-enforcement agencies unless the woman was unable to report the crime for physical or psychological reasons.  Div. of Health Care Financing, Utah Dep't of Health, Utah Medicaid Provider Manual, Physician Manual, Criteria No. 17, p. 11 (Oct. 2008).

An invalid and enjoined statute prohibits public funding for abortion unless the procedure is necessary to preserve the woman's life.  Utah Code Ann. §§ 26-18-4(2) (Original Statute Enacted 1973; Relevant Provision Enacted 1977; Last Amended 1999), 26-18-10(6) (Enacted 1981; Last Amended 1999).

A court held that this statute conflicts with federal law barring participating states from excluding abortion from the Medicaid program in cases of rape or incest as well as life endangerment, and issued a permanent injunction prohibiting its enforcement to the extent that it conflicts with federal law.  Utah Women's Clinic, Inc. v. Graham, 892 F. Supp. 1379 (D. Utah 1995).

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