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Utah approves 72 hour waiting period for abortions

Utah Governor Gary Herbert [official website] on Tuesday signed into law a bill [HB 461, text] that extends the waiting period for a woman seeking an abortion from 24 hours to 72 hours. The Utah waiting period law closely mirrors a South Dakota law passed last year [JURIST report] that imposes a 72-hour waiting period for women who wish to obtain an abortion. A federal judge blocked the South Dakota law [JURIST report] in July, saying that it imposed an undue burden on women. Though the Utah and South Dakota laws are similar in many respects, the Utah law allows the 72-hour waiting period to begin after the woman's initial consultation with any health professional [Reuters report], while the South Dakota law requires that the health professional be an abortion doctor. The Utah waiting period law is scheduled to take effect on May 7.

Many states have recently passed laws restricting abortions. On Monday, the Idaho State Senate approved a bill [JURIST report] requiring a woman who is seeking an abortion to first receive an ultrasound. Earlier this month, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell [official website] signed a similar ultrasound bill into law [JURIST report]. In February, the US District Court for the Western District of Texas [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that Texas can enforce a state law requiring women to receive a sonogram before obtaining an abortion. In July, the North Carolina state legislature overrode a governor's veto [JURIST report] to pass a law requiring a 24-hour waiting period for a woman seeking an abortion.

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