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'It's Time to Throw Down the Gauntlet': Utah Bans Abortions After 18 Weeks

(AP File Photo)

Utah's Gov. Gary Herbert has signed a new law Monday that bans abortions after 18 weeks. 

The sponsor of the measure, Republican Rep. Cheryl Acton, said she sponsored the bill to decrease the amount of second-trimester abortions that "shock the conscience."

"Utah is known as a pro-family state. We have the nation's highest birth rate," Acton said during a hearing last month. "So we should be the safest place in the nation, born and unborn." 

The ban will take effect in May and is just one of numerous new abortion restrictions in Utah, including a 72-hour waiting period and an informed consent educational session. 

The measure allows some exceptions, including rape, fetal deformity, or serious threats to the mother's health. 

Abortion advocates immediately vowed to challenge the law in court. The American Civil Liberties Union of Utah and Planned Parenthood announced in a joint statement they will take legal action. 

"These medically unnecessary restrictions can cause delays that force abortion later into pregnancy and disproportionately impact women who live in rural areas of our state and families who are economically disadvantaged," the two groups claim. 

Utah is one of several states to pass more restrictions on abortions in recent months. 

Republican Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has also signed an 18-week ban. Mississippi, Iowa, and Kentucky have also moved to ban abortions as soon as the unborn baby's heartbeat is detected. 

It is unknown if the legislation will be upheld if it reaches the US Supreme Court. On Monday, a federal judge ruled that North Carolina's 20-week abortion ban is unconstitutional. 

A number of conservatives suspect that a legal showdown over abortion is brewing due to the number of new abortion laws popping up around the country. 

National Review's David French argues that pro-life activists need to bombard the judicial branch with legal challenges to Roe v. Wade 

"Is the aim of the political wing of the pro-life movement to nibble at the edges of the American abortion culture or to confront it head-on?" French writes. "It's time to throw down the gauntlet, declare to the world (and to the Court) that the era of incrementalism is over, and show that the people are ready to embrace life."

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