Utah’s new law requiring a woman to wait 72 hours before having an abortion goes into effect today, forcing women to put off the procedure for three whole days. A similar law in South Dakota was struck down before it went into effect, but in Utah, Planned Parenthood officials said they will see how the new law affects women before they take legal action.
State Rep. Steve Eliason (R), who sponsored the bill, said the bill would give “women the chance to think about the ramifications of that decision,” but critics claim it will only make it more difficult for women, particularly those who live in rural areas, to access abortion services. “Women make good decisions and think about their decisions and the legislature telling them how long they need to think about their decision — it’s insulting,” said Karrie Galloway, CEO of Utah’s Planned Parenthood Association.
But why stop at only requiring a waiting period for abortions? Robert Kirby, a columnist for The Salt Lake Tribune, satirically questions why there’s not a waiting period before having sex or getting drunk:
Why shouldn’t you have to wait 72 hours before getting drunk or high? Lots of really bad decisions get made when you’re hammered, so it’s only fair that you sign a letter of intent, then sit in a room for three days before being served. [...]
If waiting 72 hours before resolving an unwanted pregnancy is a good idea, why not a 72-hour wait before getting pregnant on purpose? Given issues of overpopulation and increasing poverty, it’s only fair to the rest of us that you go through a cooling-off period.
Forcing women to sit on their medical discussion for a specified period of time puts the government between a woman and her doctor. Abortion is a safe, legal procedure, and women are fully capable of making their own medical choices without being forced to consider the “ramifications” for 72 hours. Similar to laws that force women to have an ultrasound before an abortion procedure, requiring women to wait only puts up additional hurdles that make it more difficult for them to access abortion care.