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The conservatives’ war on women’s reproductive health took another dark turn this week.

In Utah, the conservative majority in the Utah State legislature has passed legislation that functionally eliminates abortion access in that state. The move is the latest in a string of conservative state actions that are literally ringing the states of Colorado and New Mexico where Democratic-controlled state houses are protecting women’s rights.

HB 467, is a bill that would push abortion care out of clinics across the state. It’s a piece of fancy legislative footwork.

Marchers throng F Street headed towards Riverside Park for June 26, 2022 rally against Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. Daniel Flanders photo

The bill aims to bypass the court ruling currently blocking the state’s total ban by, among other things, amending the existing ban to restrict abortion care solely to hospitals. The Senate passed the legislation Thursday evening, after which it was sent back to the House for concurrence Friday morning. The bill now goes to Governor Spencer Cox’s desk for signature and he is expected to sign it.

Access to abortion services is a critical component of reproductive health care. According to Planned Parenthood, it is a safe procedure with a very low risk of complications in non-hospital settings, where it is usually provided. Pushing this care out of clinics to facilities that don’t normally provide it is yet another tactic to reduce access.

Today, most Utah patients receive abortion care in an outpatient clinic. Not only do most Utah hospitals not currently provide abortion except in the most extreme circumstances, but Utah law also allows hospitals – and individual providers – to refuse care to patients seeking an abortion.

The new HB 467 includes language that would further discourage hospital providers from offering care in their facilities, leaving women who live there with effectively no options for accessing abortion in the state.

“Nothing in this bill makes abortions in Utah safer, more affordable, or more accessible for the thousands of Utahns who need this essential health care each year,” said President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Association of Utah Karrie Galloway. “It has one goal: put abortion out of reach for as many Utahns as possible no matter what their faith, family, and trusted medical providers decide is best for their safety and health.”

“HB 467 is nothing but shameful procedural and political maneuvering intended to get around a valid court decision and prevent Utahns from accessing abortion,” said President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America Alexis McGill Johnson. “Today’s passage is just one part 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.”

According to this New York Times interactive map, some 13 states now ban most abortions as laws restricting the procedure take effect following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Georgia also bans abortion at about six weeks of pregnancy, before many women know they are pregnant. Adding Utah makes it at least 15 states where abortion is now illegal or nearly impossible.