SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, March 11, 2011 ( – The state of Utah is enacting tighter controls on the state’s abortion industry and guaranteeing conscience rights of health care providers with the recent passage of pro-life legislation.

The Utah House and Senate, chambers dominated by Republicans, overwhelmingly passed three major pieces of pro-life legislation for this year’s legislative session, while another bill was recently signed into law by the governor.

The first bill, HB353, “Abortion Freedom of Conscience Act,” establishes that both doctors and hospitals have freedom of conscience rights to refuse to perform abortions, and that medical professionals cannot be fired for refusing to perform abortions.

Another bill, HB354, changes the law to ban health insurance plans participating in state or federal health exchanges from covering elective abortion except in cases of rape, incest, fatal fetal deformity, or the life and physical health of the mother.

Lawmakers also passed regulations requiring two surprise inspections every year for abortion clinics in Utah. HB171 mandates the Utah Department of Health conduct the surprise inspections without notice to abortion providers. Utah has just three clinics in Salt Lake County.

The measures are likely to be signed into law by pro-life Republican Governor Gary Herbert.

On Tuesday, Herbert signed into law HB 462, which states that anyone who kills or seeks to kill an unborn child outside of abortion can be charged with criminal homicide.