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Utah Gov. Spencer Cox has a message for both sides of the abortion debate

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Gov. Spencer Cox speaks at the PBS Utah Governor’s Monthly News Conference at the Eccles Broadcast Center in Salt Lake City on Thursday, June 16, 2022. Cox had messages Wednesday, June 29, 2022, for both those praising the recent Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade and for those upset about the ruling.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox had messages Wednesday for both those praising the recent Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade and for those upset about the ruling.

"Anytime there's an abortion, that means there's been a failure," Cox said during a press conference addressing the state's water shortage. The topic was raised by a reporter asking the governor if he would make a statement about the Supreme Court ruling overturning the landmark case.

Cox answered by citing his years of experience as an attorney who studied Roe v. Wade.

"I've been very outspoken and very clear that I believe that Roe was very wrongly decided," Cox said. "I believe that not just from a religious perspective or just from a partisan perspective, but because I am an attorney who studied Roe. … I think I have a very good understanding of the legal understanding of Roe."

But Cox said it’s important that people on both sides of the issue not see those on the other side as evil.

"People who believe in abortion rights are not evil people and we should not treat them as such," he said. "These are very deeply held and personal beliefs, and I would hope that my conservative friends would recognize that we all also believe in bodily autonomy, and how we saw that during the vaccine debates and during much of what happened around COVID.

"It's not foreign to us to understand that there can be real strong feelings on making sure that women have the ability to receive the health care that they desire and determine."

Cox went on to speak to his "friends on the left."

"Many of you have dedicated your life to serving the underprivileged and those who live in the margins and reaching out to those who suffer and to alleviate suffering. I would hope that you can understand that those of us on this side of the issue also aren't evil people who hate women," Cox said.

"If you believe that there is real life in there — autonomous life — if that was your belief, you would give it everything to fight for that life because I've seen you do it with our homeless population and with the people who struggle. I believe that we all share some common beliefs that should help us understand the differences of opinion."

Cox spoke about the gender wage gap for female state employees and what has been done to fix that and improve the lives of women in our state, "especially mothers and especially single mothers."

"If you are pro-life, then that means you should be pro-all life not just pro-life until birth," he said. "We should be working to prevent unwanted pregnancies. We should be doing more to make birth control more accessible in our state."

The governor added, "Anytime there's an abortion, that means there's been a failure. It may be a failure in birth control, it may be a failure in the relationship, it may be a failure of holding men accountable — which is something else we need to do a better job of."

Cox said he believes "there are ways for the Republicans and Democrats to work together on issues where there is common agreement that will improve the life and reduce suffering for many."

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