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Religious Tolerance logo

U.S. Abortion law during 2021 in U.S. states:

Bills passed in Utah & Texas to allow
abortions only very early in pregnancy:

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1973-JAN: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in its Roe vs. Wade case to make abortions available to women in the the U.S.:

The court allowed governments to pass laws that ban abortion for women in their pregnancy's third trimester as long as the laws contained exceptions when an abortion was necessary to save the life or health of the woman. The court ruling also allowed governments to ban abortion during the woman's second trimester if less strict health regulations were met.

According to Planned Parenthood, 79% of Americans don't want Roe vs. Wade overturned. 8

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2019-FEB: Legislative activity in Utah lowering the maximum fetal age for abortions:

The youngest fetus to date to have survived birth was at 20 weeks gestation. The current law in Utah allows abortion up to 22 weeks. In comparison, studies have shown the fetuses attain consciousness, begin to sense their environment, and are able to feel pain at about 24 weeks gestation. In spite of the evidence, many religious conservatives believe that a fetus can sense pain at 20 weeks.

Rep. Cheryl K. Acton (R) sponsored House Bill 136 in the Utah House. It would ban all abortions after 18 weeks. The bill allows exceptions to the ban for pregnancies:

  • in a woman caused by rape, or rape of a child, or incest, or
  • which pose a threat to the life of the mother, or
  • poses a serious risk to the mother "of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function, or
  • the presence of "lethal fetal defects, or a “severe brain abnormality.” or in which the fetus has defects that would cause its death immediately after being born. 7

The "severe brain abnormality" clause would not include Down syndrome, spina bifida, cerebral palsy, or any condition "that does not cause an individual to live in a mentally vegetative state."

After an emotional debate, Acton said that if her fellow representatives voted for the bill, they would be voting for:

"... the least among us, the voiceless, the nameless ... and the most oppressed." 5

She also said:

"Utah should be allowed to enact reasonable abortion laws that reflect the will of the people of our state. ... [Utah's culture is one of] "life, not death."

"Now is the time for Utah to change its abortion law and not be threatened in doing so. It's the great moral issue of our time, the issue for which our society will be judged by future generations."

The constitutionality of the bill is doubtful. During 2018, Mississippi pased a similar bill banning abortions after 15 weeks. A federal judge ruled against it.

House Minority Leader Brian King, [D} urged other Representatives to consider voting against the bill. He said:

"We all also have personal values, moral values that come into play, I understand all that. "

But he urged his fellow legislators to consider the cost of defending in court:

"... what our legislative counsel believes is a clearly unconstitutional bill."

Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Millcreek, told of how 25 years ago she suffered complications from a pregnancy and she was told it was likely her unborn fetus was going to have "very, very serious medical issues." She described the "heartbreaking situation" with her family, her religious leader, and her doctor. She decided to continue the pregnancy. Her son lived, Later. as an adult, he graduated from the University of Utah with a 4.0 GPA! She said:

"I made that decision, but I made that decision and no government told me what to do. And that's why I strongly encourage you to let this decision stay with the parents, their religious authority, their doctor and not have government meddling in their business."

On 2019-FEB-26, the House passed the bill with the expected overwhelming vote: 57 to 15. 5

The Planned Parenthood Association of Utah had pledged to challenge the 18-week ban in court if it is passed and signed into law. 6

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2019-MAR: Utah HB-136 becomes law:

The bill was passed by the Utah Senate by a vote of 23 to 6.

On 2019-MAR-25, Utah governor Gary Herbert signed the bill into law.

On the same day, the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah and Planned Parenthood announced that they will challenge the law in court. They would have a significant chance of winning such a lawsuit, because HB-136 appears to directly violate the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Roe v. Wade. 7

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2021-MAY: Law restricting abortions in Texas:

Bill SB-8 was approved by the Texas Legislature and was signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott (R). It bans abortions in the state if the embryo's or fetus' "heart" beat can be detected. Although it was passed with overwhelming margins in the legislature, only two Democrats voted in favor of it. It took effect during 2021-September.

A fluttering muscle that will later become a heart can normally can be detected by a medical ultrasound instrument at about six weeks from conception. Many, perhaps most, women are not aware that they are pregnant at that time. However, the Texas' law would still prohibit an abortion.

The law allows uninvolved private citizens to sue abortion providers -- or anyone else who helps a woman obtain an abortion -- if either a fetal fluttering muscle "heartbeat" or an actual beating heart can been detected

The Texas Government's new law is the 14th anti-abortion law to be passed by U.S. states recently. Texas Right to Life said: "This measure will save thousands of lives and is a vital step in the road to abolishing all abortions in Texas." 9

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Benjamin Wood, "Legislators send ban on Down syndrome-based abortions to the governor," Salt Lake Tribune, 2019-MAR-05, at:
  2. "DOWN SYNDROME NONDISCRIMINATION ABORTION ACT," Utah State Legislature, 2019 General Session, at:
  3. "Learn important health information about your baby, earlier," Life Labs Genetics, at:
  4. Calvin Freiburge, "Utah legislature bans aborting babies with Down syndrome; governor likely to sign," Life Site News, 2019-MAR-01, at:
  5. Katie McKellar, "Utah House passes bill to ban abortions after 18 weeks," Deseret News, 2019-FEB-26, at:
  6. Nicole Nixon, "Herbert Signals Support For Down Syndrome Abortion Bill Now Heading To His Desk," KUER Public Radio, 2019-FEB-28, at:
  7. Calvin Freiburger, "Utah governor signs bill banning abortion at 18 weeks," Life Site News, 2019-MAR-27, at:
  8. "Roe v. Wade: The Constitutional Right to Access Safe, Legal Abortion," Planned Parenthood, at:
  9. Nina Totenberg, "The Supreme Court Sets A Date For Arguments In Case That Could Challenge Roe V. Wade," 2021-SEP-20, at:

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Home > "Hot" religious topics and conflicts > Abortion > State Laws > here

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Copyright © 2019 to 2021 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2021-SEP-22
Author: B.A. Robinson
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