pre-Roe statutes prohibited performance of an abortion
on a pregnant woman unless the procedure was “necessary to
preserve her life,” and
made a woman’s participation in her own abortion a criminal
offense (subject to the same exception). Pursuant
to Roe, these statutes were declared unconstitutional
in an unreported decision of a three-judge federal district
court. The statutes
were repealed in 1973.
1991, Utah enacted comprehensive new abortion statutes. Under
those statutes, an abortion could be performed at any time
of pregnancy if the procedure was “necessary to save the pregnant
woman’s life,” “to prevent grave damage to the pregnant woman’s
medical health,” or “to prevent the birth of a child that would
be born with grave defects.” An abortion
could also be performed during the first twenty weeks of gestation
where the pregnancy resulted from a reported act of rape or
statutes were declared unconstitutional by the federal courts. The post-Roe statutes
have not been repealed, and
would be enforceable if Roe v. Wade were overruled. Nevertheless,
the statutory language allowing abortion “to prevent grave
damage to the pregnant woman’s medical health,” could be subject
to abuse. The Abortion Task Force Committee that drafted the
bill that the legislature enacted considered and rejected a
definition of the “grave danger to maternal health” exception
that would exclude mental health.
Utah Code Ann. § 76-2-1 (1953).
Id. § 76-2-2. No
prosecutions were reported under this statute.
Doe v. Rampton, No. C-234-70 (D. Utah 1973). Prior
to Roe, the same three-judge district court upheld the pre-Roe statutes. See Doe v. Rampton,
No. C-234-70 (D. Utah. Sep. 29, 1971), vacated and
remanded, 410 U.S. 950 (1973).
Laws 584, 684; ch. 196, (sub.) ch. 10, pt. 14, § 76-10-1401.
Utah Laws ch. 2 (1st Spec. Sess.)
Utah Code Ann. §§ 76-7-302(2)(a), -(d),
-(e) (Supp. 2004).
Id. §§ 76-7-302(b),
Jane L. v. Bangerter, 809 F.Supp. 865 (D. Utah 1992), aff’d
in part, rev’d in part, 61 F.3d 1493 (10th Cir.
1995), reversed and remanded sub nom. Leavitt v. Jane
L., 518 U.S. 137 (1996), on remand, 102 F.3d
1112 (10th Cir. 1996), cert. denied,
520 U.S. 1274 (1997).
Jane L. v. Bangerter, 794 F.Supp. 1537, 1544 (D.
Utah 1992). As the experience in California demonstrated,
mental health exceptions were widely abused. See
People v. Barksdale, 503 P.2d 257, 265 (Cal. 1972)
(noting that more than 60,000 abortions were reported
in 1970, more than 98% of which were performed for alleged
reasons of mental health).