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Post-Roe, Planned Parenthood Utah says it won’t give up on abortion care in Utah

Kathryn Boyd, the CEO and president of the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah at the KUER studios, June 22, 2023.
Jim Hill
Kathryn Boyd, the CEO and president of the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah at the KUER studios, June 22, 2023.

The staff at the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah have mixed emotions at the one-year anniversary of the overturning of Roe v. Wade. June 24 marks one year since the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision ended the constitutional right to an abortion.

CEO and President Kathryn Boyd said they feel a “bit of trepidation, still some sadness, but also looking forward to the future as we move through the legal battles that we have challenged in the court.”

Of the four clinics that provide abortions in Utah, Planned Parenthood Utah operates three of them (though one is temporarily closed). Their legal battle over abortion access is on two fronts. A Utah trigger law that would have immediately banned most abortions following the Supreme Court’s decision is on hold while it faces a legal challenge. So too is the state’s attempt to ban abortion clinics by preventing license renewals.

“The process itself, as these cases wind their way through the court systems, is arduous. Luckily, we have great partners in the ACLU, and we have been able to rise to every challenge and every occasion that the state has provoked us with,” said Boyd.

Abortion remains legal in Utah up to 18 weeks while the court works. The Utah Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the trigger ban case on Aug. 8, 2023.

Boyd noted that the state’s trigger law is “linked in some ways to the clinic ban which essentially forces all abortion care to happen in a hospital.” In addition to the sunsetting of licenses, the clinic law passed this year would have made hospitals the sole abortion provider. With that law on hold, Boyd said “the trigger ban is the most pressing case right now because it would outlaw all abortion.”

The Utah State Legislature has indicated it’s not going to give up the fight, but Boyd said Planned Parenthood won’t back down either.

“We will go as far as it takes. We will. We will try. We will work every avenue. We will challenge every new law. We are not going to give up on providing abortion care in this state.”

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. KUER also spoke with Mary Taylor, the president of Pro-Life Utah.

Pamela McCall: If abortions and abortion clinics both end up banned in Utah, what advice and services will you offer to people who still want the procedure? 

Kathryn Boyd: We will work closely with other organizations that work in this region providing abortion care access. There are some great independent clinics. There are other Planned Parenthood clinics that we would help to facilitate care for our patients that are looking for abortion care but can't receive it in the state. We will do everything within our legal prowess to help facilitate care for our patients.

PM: Where do plans for an abortion clinic in Wendover, Nevada, stand right now?

KB: That city has been less than welcoming to the idea of a new clinic opening that wouldn't just provide abortion care, but it was also going to provide family practice services, prenatal care. That area’s very underserved for health care in general, and we were hoping to fill that gap there. But unfortunately, the city has really tried to throw up roadblocks. So, we're currently reassessing where we're at with that.

PM: How will you mark the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe?

KB: I struggle with thinking of it as an anniversary because the word anniversary, the connotation is that it's a happy occasion. And for us, it really has been a challenge. Even a year later, wrapping our minds around the fact that people cannot have bodily autonomy and control over their own reproductive health care. And that's what this decision has proven to do, is it's stripped away the rights of pregnant people to control their reproductive health care. So, I don't think it's a cause for celebration whatsoever. It is a time for us to double down and dig our heels in deeper and continue to fight for the access and the care that pregnant people deserve.

Pamela is KUER's All Things Considered Host.
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