Carrying signs and chanting “my body, my choice” down State Street to the Utah Capitol, more than a thousand people protested Texas’ restrictive abortion law on Saturday, Oct. 2.
The march in Salt Lake City was one of more than 600 nationwide marches against the law, which bans all elective abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.
“Women have rights to their bodies, and they aren’t getting that,” said Mimi Mahone, holding an “Abortion is Healthcare” handwritten sign. “People need to keep their legislation off our bodies.”
Several community members, including members of the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah, gave speeches outside the City and County Building in response to the Texas Heartbeat Act, which went into effect on Sept. 1.
“Whether and when you become a parent is a deeply personal and private decision best left to a person, their doctor, and those they trust,” said Niki Venugopal, an ACLU of Utah organizer who spoke to the crowd before the march began.
In 2019, the ACLU, with the help of Planned Parenthood, filed a lawsuit against the state of Utah over their attempt to ban abortions after 18 weeks; the law is currently blocked from taking effect by a court order.
“If our Utah legislators try to pass any more abortion restrictions or anything similar to what we are seeing in Texas, we brought one of our lawyers here today,” Venugopal continued.
Venugopal then handed the microphone over to Valentina De Fex, an ACLU attorney, who simply said: “We will see you in court.”
Rae Duckworth, chairperson for Black Lives Matter Utah, took the podium to address the disproportionate complications Black women face during childbirth. Duckworth referenced a 2017 ProPublica report that states that black mothers in the U.S. are “243 percent more likely to die from pregnancy- or childbirth-related causes.”
Duckworth said that because of prenatal care services offered by Planned Parenthood, her five-year-old daughter is a thriving “rainbow baby,” which is defined as a healthy child born after a miscarriage, infant loss, stillbirth, or neonatal death.
After nearly two hours of speeches, the crowd began marching along State Street to Capitol Hill, chanting phrases such as “Who sent us? Ruth sent us,” referencing late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.
According to Pro Choice America, Utah imposes extra restrictions on abortion providers on top of the federal and state regulations healthcare providers must comply with.
In March 2020, Utah adopted a restrictive abortion law that would prohibit abortion at any stage of a pregnancy, except under cases of rape, incest and to protect the health of the mother, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. The bill is called a “trigger law” because it will only take effect if the courts overturn or negate Roe v. Wade.
Later this year in December, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case concerning Mississippi’s ban on most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The vote outcome carries a possibility of affecting Utah’s dormant “trigger law.”