Controversy surrounds rape exception in Utah’s Abortion trigger law

U.S.

(NewsNation) — People disagree about the nuance surrounding an exception in Utah’s abortion trigger law that would go into effect if Roe v. Wade were to get overturned by the United States Supreme Court.

Under Utah’s trigger law, a woman can still get an abortion if she was raped, but the rape must be reported to law enforcement.

The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, or RAINN, estimates that 1 in 6 women are victims of sexual assault. But Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill says most of them never report it.

“It is invasive. It is brutal. It is traumatic,” says Gill. “We as a society have not made it safe for victims to be able to come forward and communicate what happens to them – our data shows that.”

RAINN estimates nearly 70% of sexual assault victims do not report it to the police. That statistic has Gill and others worried about Utah’s trigger law, which states that a victim must report to authorities in order to legally receive an abortion.

Others think women who have been raped should not seek an abortion, despite the exception.

“We know of women who have been raped, and an abortion is a traumatic and violent procedure,” says Mary Taylor, President of Pro-Life Utah. “And to heap violence on top of violence is not always the answer.”

Taylor says an abortion hurts more people and she thinks society needs to find ways to support and comfort victims any way we can.

“It doesn’t really matter how the baby came to be, ” Taylor said. “It’s still a human being and that’s a tragic tragic thing to have to deal with.”

Utah and Mississippi are standing side by side in a legal effort to have the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade, paving the way for states to outlaw abortion. Utah is among the 24 states listed on a brief supporting Mississippi’s test case to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that the U.S. Constitution protects a woman’s right to have an abortion.

State lawmakers passed Senate Bill 174 during Utah’s 2020 legislative session, which would go into effect if Roe v. Wade were to be overturned and grant each state the ability to determine its own laws on abortion. In October, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a review on the constitutionality of the law on abortion from Mississippi. Their ruling on that case could have an impact on Utah’s abortion trigger law.

Prof. Justin Collings, who teaches constitutional law at the Reuben J. Clark School of Law at Brigham Young University, joined ABC4’s Glen Mills for an In Focus discussion. He explained SB 174 in more detail, the circumstances that would activate this law, what the clause about the possible conflict in Utah code means, what the Roe v. Wade ruling says, how it relates to Casey v. Planned Parenthood, and how the Supreme Court’s ruling could affect Utah law.

Merrilee Boyack, chair of Abortion-Free Utah Coalition, shared why she supports the law to ban abortions in the state, how many Utahns she thinks supports a complete ban, whether she thinks a ban would be effective in eliminating abortions, her thoughts on doctors facing a felony for performing abortions under the law, how she feels about people being able to travel to other states to get abortions if the law goes into effect, and whether she thinks the Mississippi case will overturn Roe v. Wade.

Karrie Galloway, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Association of Utah, discussed why she opposes the law to ban abortions in the state, how many Utahns she thinks supports a complete ban, whether she thinks a ban would be effective in eliminating abortions, her thoughts on doctors facing a felony for performing abortions under the law, how she feels about people being able to travel to other states to get abortions if the law goes into effect, and whether she thinks the Mississippi case will overturn Roe v. Wade.

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