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Roe v. Wade ruling generates strong outpouring in Utah, for and against

By Tim Vandenack - | Jun 24, 2022
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Demonstrators gather outside the Supreme Court in Washington on Friday, June 24, 2022. The Supreme Court has ended constitutional protections for abortion that had been in place nearly 50 years, a decision by its conservative majority to overturn the court's landmark abortion cases.
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Maria Rago protests for abortion rights at the Utah State Capitol on Friday, June 24, 2022, in Salt Lake City.

The response has been quick and furious to Friday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, essentially ending the constitutional right to an abortion and leaving it to lawmakers in individual states to decide the matter.

Utah lawmakers passed what’s known as a “trigger law” in 2020 that outlines in which circumstances abortions would be allowed in the state, should Roe’s legal precedent be reversed.

Many in Republican Utah lauded the ruling while also focusing on the import of aiding women and children after babies are born. Here are a cross-section of views from Utah politicos, officials, candidates, activists and others:

U.S. Rep. John Curtis, a Republican: He welcomed the ruling, calling it “cause for celebration.” But given the divisive nature of the abortion issue, he also called for cool heads to prevail with discussion likely to continue. “As this difficult debate continues, I implore all Americans at all levels of government to use this opportunity to learn from one another, treat each other with compassion and find ways to work together to solve our differences rather than push one another away,” he said.

U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, a Republican: “The national nightmare of Roe has ended. … I thank God that the people of Utah and the United States are now free to enact protections for life and human dignity.”

Utah Attorney General’s Office: “Utah’s trigger law prohibits abortion but provides exceptions for rape, incest, the life of the mother and other serious medical complications. The law will also permit abortion if the fetus has a lethal defect or a ‘severe brain abnormality,’ not including (Down) syndrome, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, and other conditions that do not result in a vegetative state.”

Utah House Democratic Caucus: “The ‘trigger law’ is flawed in many ways. Notably, it harms victims of sexual assault as we know most rapes are not reported to police and fewer than 1% of reported sexual assaults are prosecuted.”

Chase Thomas, executive director of Alliance for a Better Utah: “It is alarming that these personal choices (related to abortion) have been stripped from individuals and are now placed in the hands of our state’s GOP supermajority, which has not only been hostile toward abortion access but also indifferent toward the needs and rights of women in general. … Let’s be clear. Abortion has always existed and will continue to exist, despite its legal status nationally or here in Utah.”

Utah Senate President Stuart Adams, a Republican: “Today is a monumental victory for human life. Protecting those who cannot defend themselves is an obligation and duty we must all take upon ourselves.” He went on, saying his “commitment to life” extends beyond birth. “It is imperative that we enhance resources, including eliminating barriers surrounding adoption and financial and material support to help mothers and children,” he said.

Tina Cannon, Republican candidate for the 1st District U.S. House seat: She welcomed the decision, but said efforts to reduce instances of abortion need to continue. “The pro-abortion movement will marshal their forces, attack the Supreme Court and make every effort to codify into federal law their positions. The battle to make abortion unthinkable will become more intense as blue states seek to codify abortion until birth, while red states will seek to protect life from its very beginning. As the discussion intensifies, it is crucial to have well-spoken women who are advocates for life,” she said.

Lorraine Brown, GOP hopeful for the District 10 Utah House seat: She lauded the decision but said in a letter to the editor that more needs to be done. “Beyond necessary exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother, I hope we seize this opportunity to pass legislation that improves reproductive health care for women, improves healthcare and childcare for children, improves social awareness and social responsibility for sexual behavior, improves access to adoption and surrogacy, legislation that enforces paternity responsibility and ends poverty for women and children,” she wrote.

Diane Lewis, chairperson of the Utah Democratic Party: “Most Utahns do not want to see this restrictive ban go into effect in our state. We call on GOP leadership to convene a special session of the legislature to repeal their extremist ban and listen to the voices of a majority of Utahns who don’t want to see the government take away freedom of choice from the women of our state.”

Equality Utah: The LGBTQ+ advocacy group lamented the decision, also calling Justice Clarence Thomas’ concurring opinion, signed only by him, an “ominous threat.” His opinion, the group said, calls into question “legal precedent protecting the basic and fundamental rights to contraception, parental rights, sexual intimacy and marriage equality.”

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