Utah abortion advocates gear up for a fight in response to leaked Supreme Court draft opinion
Around 600 people filled the steps of the Utah State Capitol Tuesday evening to show support for abortion access. Signs that read “Hands off my body” and “My body, my choice” peppered the crowd as community leaders advocated for reproductive rights.
“Today we stand here because the agency of women and all oppressed genders is yet again under attack,” said Ermiya Fanaeian, an organizer with the Party for Socialism and Liberation Salt Lake. “The women's struggle is a force in this world and a direct threat to the misogynists in elected office that cannot be stopped by a few court rulings or a few incompetent dinosaurs in office.”
The rally follows reporting from Politico on a draft opinion by the U.S. Supreme Court that seems to show majority justice support for overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark decision that legalized abortion.
Karrie Galloway, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Association of Utah, told KUER her organization has been sounding the alarm about the possibility of Roe being struck down for the past few years.
“It's getting real, folks,” Galloway said. “And we need everybody with everything they've got to make sure that women and people who can get pregnant can make their own personal health decisions.”
Chief Justice John Roberts has confirmed the authenticity of the draft but said it didn’t represent the court’s final decision.
The opinion as drafted would put the power in states’ hands to determine abortion access. The Utah Legislature passed a bill in 2020 that triggers a ban on abortions – except in certain circumstances – if Roe is overturned.
In a statement, Gov. Spencer Cox and Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson said they were “encouraged and optimistic” that abortion law could be left to the states, and they “anxiously await” the court’s official ruling.
Galloway said there are only a handful of facilities in the state that provide abortion procedures and stressed, for now, they will continue to do so.
But if Roe is overturned, Utahns will be forced to travel out of state to meet with providers.
That’s something the Utah Abortion Fund is gearing up for. A representative from the group — who asked to remain anonymous — said that right now, all of their funding goes toward covering abortion procedures. If Roe is struck down, the money will be split to help cover travel costs for patients.
“As a collective, we have been preparing for this moment by building strong partnerships with funds and clinics in neighboring states,” the representative said in an email to KUER. “We have been researching travel and lodging options, logistical planning, and ways to make these trips as safe as possible. We hope to move into this next phase of mutual aid with increased, sustainable financial support from our community partners.”
The Supreme Court is expected to hand down its final decision in June.