February 9, 2012 — Utah Rep. Steve Eliason (R) has proposed a bill (HB 461) that would require women to wait 72 hours before receiving abortion care, the Salt Lake Tribune reports. Under current law, women must wait 24 hours before receiving abortion services. If approved, Utah would have the same waiting period as South Dakota, which currently has the longest waiting period in the U.S.
Planned Parenthood Association of Utah has filed a lawsuit to overturn the law, arguing that it violates Roe v. Wade. The group said South Dakota's 72-hour waiting period puts an undue burden on women, who often have to travel long distances to reach the two abortion clinics in the state.
Eliason said the extension would give women the same amount of time "to make a major life decision" as "any consumer has to consider cancelling a mortgage." He argued that the South Dakota law also contained other provisions requiring women to receive counseling during the waiting period, which he says he did not include in his bill. "Most states have had waiting periods for years, and courts have upheld them," he added.
Karrie Galloway, CEO of Planned Parenthood Association of Utah, said the state has had the 24-hour waiting period "for a long time, and it has been working." She said that most women who seek abortion care have been "thinking about the decision for a long time before they come to the clinic." Galloway also noted that a 72-hour waiting period could force many women "to have multiple nights in a hotel room away from their families" (Davidson, Salt Lake Tribune, 2/8).