On Oct. 8, in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in June, the organization Women’s March called for national action to encourage election of women and pro-choice candidates during November’s midterm election.
In Utah, community members gathered on the steps of the state Capitol to rally for reproductive rights in an event hosted by Women’s March Utah. The event kicked off with speakers sharing stories, songs and poems advocating for change.
“We want our elected representatives to care about the safety and the well-being of the people of Utah,” said Devin Johnson, who led the event.
Following the overturn of Roe, Utah banned all abortions except in cases of rape, incest or health of the mother. However, a state judge granted a preliminary injunction on behalf of Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah, halting the law for now and allowing abortion services before 18 weeks to continue.
Salt Lake Community College student Marianne Aguero teamed up with Women’s March to help organize the event. Aguero, who is studying criminal justice, was born in Chile and moved to Utah in 2016. She told the audience about her grandmother, who died at age 26 after receiving an unsafe abortion in Chile.
“If women had the option to make a choice, my grandmother would still be here,” Aguero said. “I don’t believe anyone with a uterus should go through such a tragic death because of a choice.”
In August 2022, WalletHub ranked Utah last in a list that examined women’s rights across the nation. According to a report from Utah State University, only 26% of Utah legislators are women, compared to 31% nationally. The report also points out that none of Utah’s congressional seats are held by women.
Chelsea Te’o-Rodriguez, a rally participant, said she believes that electing more women into office will promote change in the state.
“It’s really hard to be heard when everybody [in office] are men,” she said. “[Women legislators] will allow our voices to be more permeable, and we will be able to be heard properly.”
Activist Sadie Black, who attended the rally wearing a cloak similar to those seen in the television series “The Handmaid’s Tale,” wants to make sure others have the same access to abortion care that she had before Roe was overturned.
“I don’t want to live a real-life episode of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale,’” She said. “I got to make my choice, and everyone should have that choice.”
After Aguero finishes her degree in criminal justice, she plans to attend law school to study civil law, hoping to then help people of color and marginalized communities.
“My dream is to make the United States a more just place for those who have a generational disadvantage due to the systems in place that hold those communities back,” Aguero said.