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Abortion rights activists to rally in Ogden, one of many protest sites across US

By Tim Vandenack - | May 12, 2022

Harrison Epstein, Standard-Examiner file photo

Lexus London, left, and Liandra Dematteo, right, march at a pro-choice rally in Ogden on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021.

OGDEN — The debate over the future of the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling is coming to Ogden.

The Planned Parenthood Association of Utah is organizing a rally for Saturday in Ogden in support of abortion rights. It’s one of four set for Utah that day — others will be in Salt Lake City, Logan and Park City — and many more all across the country.

“We need to have our voices heard. We do not want abortion bans,” said Katrina Barker, director of communications for Planned Parenthood in Utah. The event here is scheduled to go from noon to 1 p.m. Saturday and will be held in front of the Ogden Municipal Building, 2549 E. Washington Blvd.

By holding rallies across the nation, Barker said, the group aims to demonstrate that opposition to the possible striking down of Roe v. Wade is “a national movement.” The 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling deemed that women have a constitutional right to abortions, but a draft legal opinion leaked earlier this month to Politico indicates the court may be on the verge of striking down the 49-year-old decision.

Angela Choberka, a member of the Ogden City Council, is a scheduled speaker at the rally here, along with Annabel Sheinberg, vice president of external affairs for Planned Parenthood in Utah. “Access to reproductive health care is essential for all women. These decisions need to be made by the person impacted, and no one else, with the advice of a physician,” said Choberka, who is attending as a private citizen, not as a representative of the council.

While striking down Roe v. Wade wouldn’t in itself ban abortion, it would give individual states leeway to act on its legality. Utah passed a “trigger law” in 2020 that would severely limit women’s access to abortions in the event Roe v. Wade is reversed — Senate Bill 174 — thus if the Supreme Court decision is struck down, change in the state will be coming.

Choberka worries those most impacted if Utah’s laws change would be “underrepresented and vulnerable” people in the community. According to the Guttmacher Institute, which promotes sexual and reproductive health rights, 49% of abortion patients in 2014 lived below the federal poverty level and around a quarter lived at 100%-199% of the poverty level. Around 59% were Black, Hispanic or Asian or Pacific Islander.

“I stand with Planned Parenthood and other reproductive health care justice organizations in their fight to keep abortion safe and legal,” Choberka said.

If Roe v. Wade is struck down and SB 174 goes into effect, abortions would only be allowed in Utah in cases of rape, incest, when the life of the pregnant woman is in jeopardy and when the fetus has certain serious defects.

Even so, Barker said there are already many “hoops” those seeking an abortion must “jump through” before getting the procedure. Just two Salt Lake City locations provide medical abortions in Utah. “It’s not an easy process here right now,” she said.

Whatever the case, Utah is a conservative state, and notwithstanding many abortion rights activists’ worries about Roe v. Wade’s future, Bob McEntee, who is pro-life, isn’t getting too excited at the prospect that the ruling falls.

Striking Roe v. Wade, he noted, doesn’t end abortion. Rather, it would give individual states the power to rule on its legality. “It’s neutral in the sense that it doesn’t outlaw abortion,” he said. McEntee put forward an amendment to the Utah Republican Party abortion platform at the party’s state convention last month to put an increased emphasis on adoption.

The prospect that Roe v. Wade is struck has prompted debate about whether conservative states like Utah would try to enact even stricter abortion bans. McEntee, though, isn’t so sure lawmakers would push for anything beyond SB 174. “I don’t think there’s appetite in Utah to completely end abortion,” he said, which is why he wants to put a focus on adoption as an option for those with unwanted pregnancies.

Rather, he sees debate among Utah lawmakers should Roe v. Wade fall on adding new abortion limits. “They do not want a total ban. They want limits. That’s what the fight will be — what are the limits?” he said. His abortion platform proposal last month never got heard by GOP party delegates.

McEntee doesn’t begrudge the protest in Ogden set for Saturday. “Everybody certainly has freedom of speech,” he said.

He noted that Pro-Life Utah, a pro-life group, is planning a celebration rally when and if Roe v. Wade is struck down. “Although we don’t know when the Supreme Court will announce their decision, it will be a day of celebration 50 years in the making nonetheless!” the organization said on its website.


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