Judges rule on state abortion restrictions, shape Roe’s impact
SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah judge was deciding on Monday whether to allow a trigger law abortion ban to take effect while a Minnesota judge declared most restrictions in this state on unconstitutional abortion, such as the implications of the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade are sorted nationwide.
In Michigan, a campaign has registered a record number of signatures so that voters can be asked during the November ballot to enshrine the right to abortion in the state constitution.
The Dobbs v. Last month’s Jackson overturned Roe v. Wade of 1973 which concluded that the right to abortion was protected by the American Constitution. The issue has returned to the states, sparking new court battles and ballot initiatives as many states move to reduce or ban abortions.
Utah is among more than a dozen states with trigger laws designed to limit abortion after the reversal of Roe v. Wade. Utah law prohibits nearly all abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or when maternal health is threatened. A Republican-appointed judge blocked his app for 14 days after the state branch of Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit.
Planned Parenthood argues that the law violates the Utah Constitution’s equal protection and right to privacy. Utah lawyers argue that pre-Roe state abortion bans extend to when the state constitution was written and accuse Planned Parenthood of trying “to interrupt and ultimately to set aside the judgment of the Legislative Assembly”.
The judge’s temporary restraining order expired on Monday. District Court Judge Andrew Stone is now deciding whether to grant a preliminary injunction, which would allow Planned Parenthood clinics to continue providing abortion care until the court rules on the constitutional issues.
Since the case began, another Utah law banning most abortions after 18 weeks has gone into effect.
The Minnesota judge declared unconstitutional most of the state’s restrictions on abortion, including a 24-hour waiting period and the requirement that both parents be notified before a minor can have an abortion. Ramsey County District Judge Thomas Gilligan also struck down requirements that only doctors can perform abortions and that abortions after the first trimester must be performed in hospitals. His order took effect immediately, meaning the limits cannot be enforced.
Gender justice and other abortion rights supporters argued the restrictions were unconstitutional under a 1995 Minnesota Supreme Court ruling that the state constitution protects abortion rights. The judge called the case “significant and historic” and said she was unaffected by the recent US Supreme Court decision.
“These abortion laws violate privacy rights because they violate the fundamental right to access abortion care under the Minnesota Constitution and do not stand up to scrutiny,” Gilligan wrote. .
Opponents of abortion rights condemned the decision. Minnesota Citizens Concerned For Life said the laws challenged in the case are “common sense measures that support and empower pregnant women” and that their reversal prevents residents from “enacting reasonable protections for children at to be born and their mothers”. A Republican attorney general candidate has called on the Democratic attorney general to appeal.
Along with lawsuits to challenge the bans, proponents of abortion rights are trying to add ballot questions to enshrine abortion rights in state constitutions.
More than 750,000 signatures were turned in by the campaign in Michigan on Monday, nearly double the number needed. Both the Democratic governor and the battleground state’s attorney general have made abortion rights a centerpiece of their re-election campaigns.
“The number of signatures showed that here in Michigan, we trust women. We trust people. We trust doctors, not politicians, to make decisions about our bodies, our pregnancies, and our parenthood,” said Shanay Watson-Whittaker, spokesperson for Reproductive Freedom for All. press conference in Lansing.
Signatures still need to be verified and validated. A judge has temporarily blocked a 1931 Michigan law that would make abortion a felony except when “necessary to preserve such a woman’s life”.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer said the law was invalid under the due process and equal protection clauses of the state constitution. The injunction, which stems from a lawsuit for Planned Parenthood, could be revoked at any time.
Last week, supporters of a last-ditch effort to enshrine abortion rights in the Arizona Constitution failed to garner enough signatures to contest the November ballot. In California, voters will decide in November if they want to guarantee the right to abortion in their constitution. Democrats who control the government in California worry that the state’s abortion laws are vulnerable to legal challenges.
McDermott reported from Providence, Rhode Island, and Karnowski reported from St. Paul, Minnesota. Associated Press/Report for America writer Joey Cappelletti in Lansing, Michigan contributed to this report.