The message on the face of the purple and white brochure is succinct: Abortion is still legal in Utah.
"People believe that abortion became against the law on Jan. 25 in Utah. That is not true and we were concerned that desperate women could resort to desperate measures. Therefore, we have produced a brochure for mass distribution to clarify a woman's access to abortion in Utah," said Karrie Galloway, executive director of Planned Parenthood of Utah, during a Tuesday press conference at the association's headquarters.On Jan. 25 Gov. Norm Bangerter signed legislation pro-choice advocates say establishes one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country. However, the law has not yet gone into effect.
A coalition of pro-choice organizations - among them Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union - plans to file a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Utah law. The legal battle could last three years, Galloway said. Until the U.S. Supreme Court rules otherwise, abortion will remain legal in Utah, she said.
Galloway said pro-choice advocates have had an "immediate concern for the women of Utah since the governor signed SB23," which was sponsored by Sen. LeRay McAllister, R-Orem.
The brochure, part of a statewide informational campaign, has been distributed through health care and social service agencies, religious communities and Planned Parenthood's offices throughout Utah.
Dr. Kirtly Parker Jones, medical director of Planned Parenthood, said a woman who mistakenly believes abortion is illegal in Utah may needlessly travel out of state seeking an abortion, postpone the procedure until it endangers her life or resort to a self-induced abortion.
"A woman who would like to have an abortion for any reason may prolong seeking an abortion or travel out of state unnecessarily. We all know the later an abortion, there's more complications and expense to the patient," Jones said.
Thus far, none of the Utah clinics that perform abortions have treated clients who have attempted to self-abort since the abortion limitation law was passed by the Legislature.
The real danger is misinformation, Galloway said. "I hope I never have to see that. That's why we're all here."