If a two-tiered bill intended to do away with "abortion on demand" becomes law, attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union will take the state of Utah to court.
"This bill, it's not just one we're going to litigate, it's one we're going to win," said Michele Parish-Pixler, executive director of the Utah ACLU, in a Tuesday night press conference.The announcement that the civil rights organization will commit national resources to the fight comes days after National Right to Life attorney James Bopp's offer to defend the bill's constitutionality all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. ACLU also will support the legal fight through local fund raising.
Attorneys for the ACLU's National Reproductive Freedom Project believe the conservative Supreme Court would rule against the proposed legislation. "Even with the movement of the court, we don't think that they would move this far to declare it constitutional," she said.
The first tier prohibits abortion except to save a woman's life; if the abortion resulted from rape or incest that was reported to law enforcement; to prevent life-threatening damage to the pregnant woman's physical health; or if the child would be born with "grave and irremediable physical or mental defects incompatible with sustained survival.
The second tier, considered less restrictive, would take effect if the first tier did not survive a court test. Under the second section of the proposed law, an abortion could be obtained to prevent the birth of a child with grave deformities or if the pregnancy threatened the woman's medical health, which could be construed to include mental health.
Parish-Pixler urged Gov. Norm Bangerter to veto the legislation and save the state a long and costly legal battle. "I urge the governor not to rush into signing a bill that's not going to be any better than the bill he told the Legislature he would veto."
Guam has already spent $750,000 defending similar legislation, and the battle has not yet reached the U.S. Supreme Court, she said.
Parish-Pixler said the state has more pressing needs than spending tax dollars to fund a legal battle it's sure to lose. "It's an indulgence," she said. "If this is more of a priority than school books, so it will be."