Fifty-two percent of Utahns disapprove of a 2023 law that would require all abortions to be performed in hospitals, a new Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics shows.

The poll also shows that 52% of the 798 registered voters in Utah surveyed by the polling firm Dan Jones & Associates approve of an earlier law that would ban elective abortions and allow it only under limited circumstances.

SB174 was passed by the Utah Legislature in 2020, anticipating that the Supreme Court would overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, which it did in June 2022.

The law allows abortions only if the mother’s life is at risk, if the pregnancy was a result of rape or incest, or if two physicians who practice “maternal fetal medicine” both determine that the fetus “has a defect that is uniformly diagnosable and uniformly lethal or ... has a severe brain abnormality that is uniformly diagnosable.” Elective abortions are banned.

HB467, sponsored by Rep. Karianne Lisonbee, R-Clearfield, and passed by Utah lawmakers earlier this year, would restrict abortions from being performed in clinics, only allowing them to be carried out in hospitals.

Enforcement of both SB174 and HB467 is on hold pending ongoing legal challenges.

Sen. Dan McCay, R-Riverton, sponsor of SB174, said the poll results, which are essentially 50-50, are “neither positive nor negative.”

They reflect that “people are watching the issue, they’re paying attention and that’s great,” he said.

For state lawmakers, the even split means as the Utah Legislature continues to consider abortion measures and policies, “we’ve got to make sure that we’re building consensus with the public on the issue,” McCay said.

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House Minority Leader Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, said both bills are intended to limit access to abortion except under “very narrow” circumstances.

“It’s a close poll. So for me, I just don’t see this as a victory for banning abortion completely,” she said.

Romero said she believes seeking an abortion is a deeply personal decision that is not the business of the state legislators or the public at large.

“From my perspective, abortion should be handled at a federal level versus the state level because of the complexity of it,” she said, adding, “I really do believe abortion is health care and I truly believe that that’s between an individual and their health care provider.”

The poll, conducted May 22 through June 1, has a margin of error of 3.46 percentage points.

While Utahns were evenly divided on both questions, the poll’s youngest respondents expressed the highest degree of disapproval of the law that would restrict abortions from being performed in clinics. Eighty-six percent of Utahns ages 18-24 said they disapproved of the law, with 60% saying they strongly disapproved.

Among Utahns ages 57 and up, 42% indicated they strongly or somewhat disapproved.

There was also a decisive split among poll respondents based on political parties. Sixty-one percent who self-identified as Republican said they approve of HB467, with 43% indicating they strongly approved.

Among Democrats, a combined 93% said they somewhat or strongly disapproved of the law.

Jason Perry, director of the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics, said the poll results reflect a sharp division between Democrats and Republicans on both questions.

Eighty-nine percent of Republican poll respondents said they either strongly or somewhat approve of Utah’s trigger law, which would eliminate elective abortion and allow it only under certain exceptions. Among Democrats, a combined 89% strongly or somewhat disapprove of the law.

There is a high degree of approval of the abortion statute among Republicans but “they’re a little less certain about where it should be done as opposed to what can be done,” Perry said.

The poll reflected a lesser split between men and women. While 48% of men said they somewhat or strongly disapproved of the restriction on abortions being performed in clinics, only allowing them to be performed in hospitals, a combined 56% of women said they either strongly or somewhat opposed the law.

McCay said it was unclear why there was slightly more disapproval of the clinic law than support. Utah’s trigger ban permits abortion under narrow circumstances and “most of those abortions are going to occur in emergency situations so they would occur in hospital anyway,” he said.

During floor debate, some House Democrats said they opposed HB467 over concerns about abortion access and additional costs if the procedures can only be performed in hospitals.

Overall, the responses to both poll questions were evenly split, McCay said.

“When you see a 50-50 division like this on any policy, it shows that we in the legislature need to make sure that we are continually working with the public and making sure we understand the things that they object to and things they don’t and make sure that we’re making those considerations as we’re putting together legislation,” he said.

Correction: An earlier version of this story said 46% of people who responded to a recent Deseret News-Hinckley Institute of Politics poll approve of Utah’s trigger law that would ban elective abortions and allow it only under limited circumstances. The poll actually showed 52% approve of the law.