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Utah Democrats want special session to overturn state abortion law

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Kim Jarrett | The Center Square

(The Center Square) - The Utah Democratic Party is calling on lawmakers to hold a special legislative session to overturn a law that allows an abortion ban. 

The U.S. Supreme Court overturned the 49-year-old Roe v. Wade decision and said it is up to states to decide if abortion is legal. 

The Utah Legislature passed Senate Bill 174 in 2020. It prohibited elective abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or medical emergencies. 

"The U.S. Supreme Court's official opinion will now be sent to the Legislature's general counsel to determine if Utah's statute may take effect," Aundrea Peterson, spokesperson for the Utah Senate, told The Center Square. "If the legislative general counsel determines that SB174 meets the requirements to take effect, the general counsel will certify to members of the Legislative Management Committee that the bill is in effect."

The Utah Democratic Party called the decision "earth-shattering" to women across the country and called on state lawmakers to act. 

"Most Utahns do not want to see this restrictive ban go into effect in our state," the organization said in a statement. "We call on GOP leadership to convene a special session of the legislature to repeal their extremist ban and listen to the voices of a majority of Utahns who don't want to see the government take away freedom of choice from the women of our state."

Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes said his office is ready to defend any challenges. 

"The Supreme Court pronouncement is clear. It has returned the question of abortion to the states," Reyes said in a statement." And the Utah legislature has answered that question." 

Gov. Spencer Cox and Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson issued a joint statement backing the decision. 

"We wholeheartedly support this Supreme Court ruling and are encouraged to see abortion law will be left to elected state representatives," they said in a joint statement. "As pro-life advocates, this administration is equally committed to supporting women and families in Utah. We all need to do more to support mothers, pregnant women, and children facing poverty and trauma."