A Timeline of Utah History with Abortion Rights and Roe v. calf

In the past, Utah has enacted some of the toughest abortion laws in the nation, and more could come into force if Roe v. Wade will be lifted this summer.

(Jose Luis Magana | AP) The US Supreme Court is seen in Washington early Tuesday, May 3, 2022. According to a Politico report released Monday, a draft opinion suggests the U.S. Supreme Court may be ready to hear the landmark case of Roe v. Wade in 1973, which legalized abortion nationwide.

The US Supreme Court has reportedly voted to uphold the Roe v. Wade — a landmark 1973 ruling recognizing a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion — a newly leaked draft majority opinion shows.

The first draft, released Monday night by Politico, was authored by Justice Samuel Alito, and further reports from Politico indicate Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett have sided with Alito have, while judges Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan disagree. It’s unclear how Chief Justice John Roberts will vote; However, if the other judges follow these indications, the court would have the required majority to grant Roe v. pick up calf.

In a Tuesday press release, the Supreme Court confirmed the leak was accurate but warned that “it does not represent a decision by the court or a member’s final position on the issues in the case.”

If Roe v. Wade is officially overturned, it would be an unprecedented decision by the country’s highest court. Here is Utah’s history with abortion laws.


  • 1876: As of 1876, it was a crime in Utah to induce a miscarriage “by the use of any drug, drug, substance, or other means, unless it was done to save her life.”

  • January 22, 1973: Roe v. Wade is decided in a 7-2 decision by the US Supreme Court. The case establishes certain safeguards for a woman’s right to an abortion based on her constitutional right to privacy. The Supreme Court Case Doe. v. Bolton, who struck down an abortion law in Georgia, will also be decided on the same day.

  • March 2, 1973: After the Supreme Court rules the two landmark cases, Utah is taking quick steps to limit abortion rights in the state. A new abortion law bans abortions except in cases where the mother’s life or health is at risk, and requires “court hearings before all abortions and the consent of the father”.

  • Aug 1973: The Utah Abortion Act is ruled unconstitutional in a district court. In their verdict, the judges cite the decision of Roe v. Wade noting that the law is “discriminatory and too broad as it applies to every trimester of pregnancy.”

  • February 1974: The unconstitutional law is repealed and replaced. The new law includes a provision that “requires a physician to notify the parent or guardian of a minor and the husband of a married woman before performing an abortion.” Language regarding parental notification is upheld by the US Supreme Court in 1981.

  • January 25, 1991: Utah Gov. Norman Bangerter signs the Criminal Abortion Act, “the toughest anti-abortion measure in the 50 states,” according to the New York Times. The Times article, published the day after the law was signed, also describes the law as a “direct challenge to Roe v. Wade” with bans on most elective abortions in cases other than rape, incest, or “serious” health threats to the mother or defects in the baby.

  • June 29, 1992: The case of Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey will be decided by the US Supreme Court, and his decision upholds the Roe v. Calf. However, the provisions of Pennsylvania law requiring parental consent in the case of a minor and a waiting period will be observed. The other section in question, requiring married women to notify their husbands before having an abortion, is deleted. The ruling also sets the “unreasonable burden” standard for state laws seeking to regulate abortion.

  • December 1992: Following a lawsuit filed by the ACLU in April 1991, a district court judge rules that much of Utah’s new Criminal Abortion Act is unconstitutional. The judge lifts the ban on most elective abortions, but maintains certain bans on when an abortion can be performed during a pregnancy. The judge also deleted the husband’s notification requirement.

  • 1997: The District Court’s decision is upheld by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

  • March 25, 2019: Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signs HB136, legislation banning abortions after 18 weeks of pregnancy. The law is currently dormant. The final ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which bans abortions after 15 weeks and is currently under review by the US Supreme Court, could result in the law becoming enforceable.

  • March 28, 2020: Gary Herbert, Governor of Utah, signed SB174, a trigger law that would take effect if Roe v. Wade is lifted. The new law would allow Utah to revert to some of the same rules from the 1991 Criminal Abortion Act. The Trigger Act prohibits “all elective abortion except for rape, incest, and a mother’s health.” For more information on the law, see The Salt Lake Tribune’s coverage here.

  • May 17, 2021: The US Supreme Court agrees to hear the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Among possible outcomes, the court’s ruling could uphold Mississippi law and Roe v. Repeal Wade, Uphold Mississippi Law, and Roe v. Keep Wade or just scrap the law — Politico’s reporting makes the first option the most likely.

  • July 2021: Utah Senator Mike Lee, along with Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, is submitting an amicus brief to the Supreme Court regarding Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, asking the court to review the decisions in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern to drop Pennsylvania against Casey.

  • May 2, 2022: Politico publishes the leaked draft of the majority opinion, in which Alito writes: “roe was grossly wrong from the start. His reasoning was exceptionally weak and the decision had deleterious consequences.” The Supreme Court is expected to issue an official decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization by the end of this summer.

  • 2nd-3rd May 2022: Utah Sens. Mike Lee and Mitt Romney react to Politico leak in one tweet On Monday night, Lee writes in part, “I hope and pray that Judge Alito’s well-written and reasoned draft does indeed reflect the majority opinion of the court.” Romney echoes those sentiments the next day in a tweet by himself, writing: “If the leaked draft opinion reflects the final outcome, it is a decision that I support. The sanctity of human life is a fundamental American principle.”

While HB136 and SB174 are both in stasis, Utah still has laws regulating abortion. According to Planned Parenthood, “In Utah, you must obtain face-to-face informed consent and wait 72 hours before you can have an abortion.”

Editor Jeff Parrott contributed to this report. A Timeline of Utah History with Abortion Rights and Roe v. calf

Joel McCord

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