Thousands Rally for Reproductive Rights at State Capitol


Carlene Coombs

(Photo by Carlene Coombs | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Abhilasha Khatri and Carlene Coombs


On Saturday, May 14, thousands of people gathered at the Utah State Capitol in a nationwide effort to support reproductive rights. Planned Parenthood organized rallies throughout Utah and across the nation in response to the likely overturning of Roe v. Wade.

“We shouldn’t have to be here,” Eve Brown, a high school activist said during her speech at the rally. “We should not be screaming until our throats are raw, pleading to have the right to our own bodies.”

The rally started at 11 a.m. and protestors quickly covered the Capitol steps and lawn. 

Representatives from Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union and Postpartum Support International Utah, as well as activists spoke at the event. The protest was one of multiple that took place around the state with other rallies taking place in Ogden, Park City and Logan.

Candy Duran Taveras shared her personal experience about getting an abortion with the crowd. 

“Having an abortion literally saved my life,” Taveras said. “I was able to work on my mental health and live a life that was right for me.”

Three years after getting an abortion, Taveras became a mother. 

“I will forever be grateful that I got to choose if and when to become a parent,” she said. “That is a decision that every person should be able to make for themselves.”

Brown discussed how the United States has the highest maternal mortality rate among developed countries and spoke about the current infant formula shortage. In her speech, Brown also addressed the lack of sex education, universal health care and access to mental health care, especially for marginalized communities.

“The bodies of people with a uterus are being controlled by old white cis men all over the country,” Brown said. “To make that control even further widespread, it’s being decided by nine individuals, none of whom will be personally affected by it.”

Karrie Galloway, CEO of Planned Parenthood Association of Utah, shared that this year Planned Parenthood repeated a poll conducted in January 2020 that showed most Utahns don’t support increasing abortion restrictions.

Galloway said the new poll showed 86% of people in Utah say the decision about pregnancy should be made by the pregnant person, not politicians. She added that 76% of Utahns said there should be no more abortion laws and 55% of Utahns said that abortion should be allowed in all or most circumstances.

Anila Jonnavithula, a fourth-year biology major at the University of Utah, attended the rally and said “it was upsetting” to hear about Roe v. Wade potentially being overturned. 

“I know that this will not only directly impact me, but it will also impact a lot of other minority groups and the generations to come,” she said. 

Jonnavithula hopes to see major healthcare reform and contribute herself by becoming an OB-GYN to provide reproductive health care to communities that often struggle to get access. 

In 2020, Utah passed a law banning abortion with limited exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother. In the case of rape and incest, the incident must be reported to law enforcement.

Natalie Pinkney, an organizer for the rally and South Salt Lake City council member, said she is worried about the ambiguity of Utah’s abortion trigger law because it does not state how exceptions for rape and incest will be decided or what the legal process will exactly be. 

“I’m very afraid that basically what’s happening nationally is that women are becoming second class citizens,” Pinkney said.

Pinkney urged conservative voters to think of abortion rights as an issue of bodily autonomy. 

“You may think you’ve won this fight, but you’ve actually taken away your own rights,” she said. 


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