1,000 rally for Women’s March in Utah to protest anti-abortion laws
The Salt Lake City rally was one of 620 scheduled events advocating access to abortion after Texas lawmakers passed a controversial abortion law.
It has been nearly 50 years since the Roe V. Wade Supreme Court ruled that pregnant people were granted the right to abortion without undue government restrictions.
But Niki Venugopal from ACLU Utah told a crowd of more than a thousand on Saturday: “We are still marching for and demanding and demanding our rights.”
Most recently, the group, along with Planned Parenthood, sued Utah in 2019 after state lawmakers passed a law banning abortions after 18 weeks of pregnancy. A federal judge suspended this law on its way through the courts.
“And when our lawmakers in Utah try to get further abortion restrictions or something like the one in Texas (which just passed the strictest abortion laws in the country), we brought one of our lawyers here today to send this message,” Venugopal said and handed the microphone to her colleague Valentina De Fex.
De Fex took the microphone and simply said, “See you in court.”
The crowd burst out cheering.
The group gathered outside Salt Lake City City Hall on Saturday to send a message to lawmakers and the Supreme Court: Access to abortion is an essential right of health care.
The rally was one of more than 620 planned rallies across the country, organizers said. It came after the Texas decision to pass a law banning abortions from the sixth week of pregnancy and allowing people to sue and sue anyone who helps a pregnant person get an abortion after doctors detect cardiac activity.
The Justice Department sued Texas over the law. The case is pending.
The crowd grew from a few hundred Saturday mornings outside Salt Lake City City Hall to more than a thousand when the group began their march up State Street to the Capitol.
Before the group left, the crowd heard from several speakers, including Black Lives Matter’s new leader Rae Duckworth, who said that reproductive rights affect all women – but the effects on black women are more pronounced.
According to Planned Parenthood, “Because of systemic oppression, black people face greater barriers to receiving sexual and reproductive health services than white Americans. As a result, blacks experience some of the highest rates of cervical cancer, unwanted pregnancy, maternal mortality, and sexually transmitted infections in the country.
As the crowd marched up the hill to the Capitol, they sang “My Body, My Choice” and “Separation of Church and State,” while waving to drivers passing by. Some drivers honked back their horns.
One woman wore a red dress and white bonnet, like the maidservants in Margaret Atwood’s 1985 dystopian novel “The Handmaid’s Tale,” and carried a sign that read “Make Margaret Atwood Fiction Again”.
Another carried a pink billboard that said, “No uterus. No opinion.”
A man wearing a blue disposable face mask was holding a sign that read, “Imagine a group of women legislating to regulate men’s bodies.”
The rally ended at the Capitol after a mile of walking up State Street and after several people spoke, including Democratic MP Angela Romero, who told attendees that there is a small but strong group of lawmakers in Utah who are campaigning for it to protect access to abortions in the US state.
Ma Black, a DJ at KRCL, picked up the microphone shortly thereafter and told the crowd that access to abortion and other reproductive rights was hard-won for racially and ethnic minorities and those of lower socioeconomic status. She said that many women have been made by the state about their reproductive health decisions, such as forced sterilization.
“This is the time to speak up to drive change,” she said.
To pave the way for future generations of daughters, sisters and mothers.