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“This is unacceptable,” says Cecile Richards

“We see what this law puts our patients through every single day,” says Karrie Galloway


New York, NY – A new study by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco in the journal Perspectives of Sexual and Reproductive Health has found that Utah’s law mandating at least a 72-hour waiting period between a woman’s consultation visit and her abortion procedure increases hardship on a woman seeking to end her pregnancy. Despite efforts by abortion providers in Utah, including Planned Parenthood, to mitigate the impact of the law on a woman’s ability to access an abortion, patients have incurred additional costs, more stress, and procedures have been pushed later into pregnancy.  While legal abortion is very safe, it is safer the earlier it is provided.  

“This is what we at Planned Parenthood know to be true: when a woman decides to end a pregnancy, she has made a carefully considered decision --- a decision in which politicians have no business to interfere,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “This study found that too often a woman in need of an abortion in Utah must scramble to find more money for the procedure, make additional travel and childcare arrangements, and then wait for days --- in most cases, more than a week --- to end a pregnancy.  This is unacceptable, and why we fight bills like these whenever they are introduced.”

“As a leading health care provider to more than 46,000 people throughout Utah, these findings are deeply concerning --- but unfortunately they aren’t surprising. We see what this law puts our patients through every single day --- and we know this law was never really about empowering a woman in Utah with the information she needs to make her own decision about her pregnancy, it has always been about making a safe and legal abortion more difficult to get,“ said Karrie Galloway, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Association of Utah.  

In the study out of Utah released today, the researchers found that the additional costs of the procedure as a result of the law represent a significant proportion of patients’ monthly income. In fact, one-quarter of women in the survey spent more than 5 percent of their monthly income on the separate information visit that is required to take place at least 72-hours prior to the woman’s abortion.

In addition to financial hardship, women in the study spoke frankly about the emotional effects of the state-mandated 72-hour delay.  The researchers characterized these feelings as, “[the women] knowing what they wanted to do, but feeling that they could not move on until they had the abortion,” and “a frustration at being powerless to implement their decision.”

Another significant finding of the paper is the degree to which “72-hour” waiting periods actually push abortion later into a woman’s pregnancy.  On average, eight days elapsed between the information visit and the abortion.  And importantly, the logistical challenges associated with the 72-hour waiting period meant that some women (6 percent) had to disclose their abortion to bosses, co-workers and other individuals that they otherwise wouldn’t want to involve in their decision.  

“When this law passed, we doubled down to make sure that our patients could get the care they need, when they need it,” Galloway continued. “We worked to minimize the harmful impact of this law by expanding our hours and adding additional staff, but this study demonstrates that the law is having very real, negative effects on women in our state, in spite of our best efforts to minimize the harm. We wish our elected officials would work to find ways to increase access to care, but unfortunately this session we’ve seen repeated attempts to interfere in women’s private medical decisions.”   

Disregarding the vocal opposition of women’s health care providers and advocates, in recent years South Dakota, Missouri, Oklahoma and North Carolina have joined Utah in enacting laws mandating a 72-hour waiting period between a woman’s initial informational visit and the abortion procedure (South Dakota’s 72-hour mandatory delay was famously amended in 2013 to exclude weekends and holidays from the 72-hour calculation). Today, Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast and other Louisiana-based women’s health advocates are fighting a proposal  that would triple the state’s mandatory delay to 72-hours.   


Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With over 650 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.


Planned Parenthood Federation of America


Planned Parenthood Federation of America media office: 212-261-4433


March 24, 2016