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Advocates celebrate temporary block of Utah’s abortion clinic ban

Abortion advocates rallied at the Salt Lake City and County Building on May 3, 2023. Attendees held signs in the air, cheered and chanted.
Martha Harris
Abortion advocates rallied at the Salt Lake City and County Building on May 3, 2023. Attendees held signs in the air, cheered and chanted.

At the Salt Lake City and County Building Wednesday evening, advocates celebrated after a state judge blocked a new law that would have banned Utah abortion clinics and required individuals to go to a hospital for an abortion. The injunction came through one day before the law was scheduled to take effect.

Alex Gero said she wanted to send the judge, the Third District’s Andrew Stone, a fruit basket.

But while she is celebrating for now, she knows that this block is temporary and said whether she continues to live in Utah is still up in the air.

“It is a scary time, I have no idea,” Gero said. “I would like to say I’m optimistic. I have no idea what will happen.”

Gero spoke at the rally, and told the crowd about her own experience having an abortion a few years ago. She was dating her now-husband, but when she got pregnant she said she immediately knew it was not the right time for them to have a child.

Now, in 2023, she’s pregnant again and excited to have a baby this summer.

“But increasingly, my excitement is tempered by fear. Fear that my husband and I may not have the final say in my pregnancy should something go wrong and fear that our daughter will grow up without the freedom of choice that I, up until now, have assumed is a human right,” Gero told the crowd.

Abortion remains legal in Utah up to 18 weeks and Utahns are still able to receive an abortion in a clinic instead of a hospital, but Republican members of the Legislature have been working to chip away at abortion rights for the last few years. Most of those laws are hung up in the courts, including Utah’s trigger law, passed in 2020, which would ban nearly all abortions.

Gero said if those laws were to go into effect, she would likely leave the state before expanding her family. And if those laws had gone into effect before her pregnancy, she said she would have likely decided to not become a parent.

At the rally, the Utah Abortion Fund handed out Plan B, an emergency contraceptive, and speakers emphasized that abortion still is legal in Utah. The crowd chanted “abortion is a human right” and “abortion is health care,” while holding signs that said “keep your politics+religion out of my health choices,” “bans off our bodies” and “don’t like abortions? Then don’t get one.” Some Democratic elected officials also attended the event, including Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall and Sen. Jen Plumb.

“This isn’t like a ‘win-win.’ This is a small victory because our health and personal freedoms are still at stake,” Candida Duran Taveras, Planned Parenthood of Utah’s director of community engagement, told the crowd. “This new injunction has given us the ability to breathe so that we can make a plan to take action together.”

Martha is KUER’s education reporter.
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