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Utah governor signs bill criminalizing attempted illegal abortions

[JURIST] Utah Governor Gary Herbert (R) [official profile] signed a bill [press release] into law on Monday that would allow a woman to be charged with criminal homicide if she arranges for an illegal abortion. Bill HB 462 [text, PDF] defines abortion and states that "[t]he killing or attempted killing of a live unborn child in a manner that is not an abortion shall be punished as provided in Title 76, Chapter 5, Part 2, Criminal Homicide." The legislation is in response [Salt Lake Tribune report] to a case last year where a 17-year-old girl paid a man $150 to beat her in order to induce a miscarriage. The judge in that case held that no law existed that would allow her to be charged with a crime. Also Monday, the governor vetoed the more controversial original version of the bill, HB 12 [text, PDF], because it allowed for charges when the behavior was "reckless." Legislators feared that this language would allow for unintended consequences, that women of accidental or natural miscarriages might be investigated.

Controversy over abortion laws has also continued in other states. Last week, the Supreme Court of Oklahoma [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that a state law [SB 1878, DOC] imposing broad restrictions on abortion violates the state constitution. In February, Oklahoma state court judge Daniel Owens ruled [JURIST report] that a different state law [HB 1595, PDF], making it illegal for a doctor to perform an abortion based on the gender of a fetus and requiring numerous reporting requirements, also violated the state constitution's single subject requirement. In November, an Illinois Cook County Circuit Court [official website] judge granted a temporary restraining order [JURIST report] on the Parental Notice of Abortion Act of 1995 [text] only hours after the Illinois Medical Disciplinary Board had ruled to begin enforcing the law. Earlier that month, the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit [official website] struck down [JURIST report] a City of Pittsburgh [official website] ordinance [text, PDF] that created a layered zone structure to prevent protesters from gathering outside abortion facilities. In June 2007, the governor of New Hampshire signed a repeal [JURIST report] of the state's parental notification law, which never took effect.

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