SALT LAKE CITY — Eve Thompson-Brown, a 16-year-old, said overturning Roe vs. Wade would put tens of millions of lives in danger, since illegal abortions lead to a significant portion of pregnancy deaths. She argued that no one has the right to use a person's body against their will.
She was one of more than an estimated 2,000 people gathered at the state Capitol Saturday to rally in favor of abortion rights and against a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion which shows the court may ultimately decide to overturn Roe v. Wade. Similar Planned Parenthood "Bans Off Our Bodies" rallies were held across the country or scheduled for this weekend, including Saturday rallies in Logan, Ogden and Park City.
"We shouldn't have to be here. We should not be screaming until our throats are raw pleading to have the right to our own bodies," Thompson-Brown said.
She claimed there is "approximately zero" sex education in Utah, that health care is not accessible to many people, and there is a shortage of infant formula, yet the government is choosing to "force" infants into the world. "It is being decided by nine individuals, none of whom will be personally affected by it," she said, referring to the Supreme Court justices.
The group chanted, "Our body, our lives, our right to decide," "Two, four, six, eight, you can't make us procreate," and "A fetus is not a baby, abortion is not murder, we are not incubators."
Misha Pangasa, an OBGYN, told the crowd part of her job is providing "save, evidence-based abortion care," and she said she is terrified that providing this care could become illegal.
"To look someone in the eye, to see and to know their suffering, and to know that you have the capability to help them but your hands are tied is a truly a soul-wrenching experience. And I have no doubt that the people making these horrendously restrictive laws simply have the privilege of closing their eyes to this suffering," she said.
Planned Parenthood CEO Karrie Galloway encouraged people at the rally to reach out to family, friends, co-workers and door-to-door to talk about abortion.
She said a poll it commissioned this year shows most Utahns believe pregnancy decisions should be made by the pregnant person.
South Salt Lake City Councilwoman Natalie Pinkney organized the rally. She said the first "reactionary rally" against the Roe vs. Wade decision leak had a lot of politicians, but she wanted to make sure this rally had representation from minorities.
She said a Utah abortion law that would go into effect should Roe v. Wade be overturned making many abortions illegal in the state is "a very ambiguous law." Pinkney said although the law has exceptions for rape, incest and a mother's health, it doesn't explain how a woman would show that such categories apply.
"To put someone's health within the court system is kind of scary," she said.
Pinkney said it makes her afraid that the criminal justice system could be that involved in health care, and that it would make women "second class citizens" around the country, especially if they are convicted for having an abortion.
She encouraged people to find ways to get involved, donate to an abortion fund, come to a rally or talk to neighbors and family.
"Even when protests and rallies stop, like they did eventually in 2020, the work doesn't stop, legislation does not stop, movements do not stop," Pinkney said.