‘So the state has options’: Sponsor of Utah’s trigger law proposes amending state constitution

Jul 8, 2022, 6:45 PM | Updated: Mar 23, 2023, 5:02 pm

A bill that could make its way to the Utah legislature in the 2023 session would require school dis...

The Utah State Capitol is pictured in Salt Lake City, Utah. Sen. Dan McCay (R-Riverton) is sponsoring a bill that would call for a slight redesign of the new Utah State Flag that was unveiled late last year. (Kira Hoffelmeyer/ KSL NewsRadio)

(Kira Hoffelmeyer/ KSL NewsRadio)

SALT LAKE CITY — A state lawmaker is proposing changing the state constitution if Utah’s abortion trigger law is struck down.

Senator Dan McCay, R-Salt Lake City, has opened a bill called “Proposal to Amend Utah Constitution — Rights Relating to Abortion.” 

McCay also sponsored the state’s current so-called abortion trigger law.

There is no language to the bill yet. However, McCay tells KSL NewsRadio in a text message he has opened the bill to make sure “the state has options during the 2023 General Session.”

He did not specify how that bill might be written.

Presumably, if a judge strikes Utah’s trigger law, McCay would want to change the constitution to include rights for the unborn.

What’s up with the trigger law right now?

The trigger law is currently on hold while it faces a lawsuit by Planned Parenthood of Utah and the ACLU of Utah. Those two groups have alleged the newly enacted law violates Utah’s state constitution.

But the state is arguing otherwise, that the rights of the unborn are protected by the constitution.

If Utah wins its lawsuit, then McCay likely wouldn’t need to change Utah’s constitution. The fairly strict trigger law would ban all abortions save some exceptions — which he sponsored — would then take effect.

So amending the state constitution… 

To amend Utah’s constitution a two-thirds majority vote of both the House and Senate would need to approve the amendment. That would put the proposed amendment on the ballot in the next general election, then the voters would also have to approve.

McCay believes he has that support.

“Recent polling data shows widespread support for protecting life. I’m confident we will find the legislative and public support needed,” he said.

A Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll done in May of 2022, indicates that 46% of Utahns say abortion should only be legal in certain cases like rape, incest, and if there’s any threat to the mother’s health. 

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‘So the state has options’: Sponsor of Utah’s trigger law proposes amending state constitution