Supreme Court Overturns Roe v. Wade, Thousands Gather at State Capitol to Protest


Xiangyao Tang

Demonstrators at the protest of the overturning of Roe v. Wade at the Utah State Capitol on Friday, June 24, 2022. (Photo by Xiangyao “Axe” Tang | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Abhilasha Khatri, Investigative Editor


The Supreme Court voted on Friday to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision made in 1973 to protect the right to an abortion. The decision comes over a month after a draft of the majority opinion was leaked. 

The draft said the provision used to defend the decision, the right to privacy implied by the due process clause of the 14th Amendment, can only guarantee rights not mentioned in the constitution if they are “deeply rooted in the Nation’s history and tradition.” Justice Samuel Alito argued that abortion did not fit this requirement. 

The 14th Amendment has been used to decide other landmark cases, including Loving v. Virginia which legalized interracial marriage, Obergefell v. Hodges which legalized same-sex marriage and Griswold v. Connecticut which gave married couples the right to buy and use contraception

Justice Clarence Thomas expressed in a solo concurring opinion that the court should “reconsider” the Griswold, Obergefell and Lawrence v. Texas (protects same-sex relationships) cases. 

With no more federal protection, the question of abortion rights has been left up to states to decide individually. Utah is one of 13 states with trigger laws in place, written to take effect in the case that Roe v. Wade is overturned. 

Utah’s trigger law, S.B. 174, was passed in the 2020 legislative session. It bans abortions except in the cases of rape, incest, or necessity due to serious health risk to the mother or severe birth abnormalities in the child. In the case of rape or incest, the incident must be reported to law enforcement. Birth abnormalities must be agreed upon in writing by two physicians. 

The law officially went into effect just after 6 p.m. on Friday after being certified by the legislature’s general counsel. It makes performing an abortion a second degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Doctors and clinics found to be in violation of the law could lose their licenses. 

With S.B. 174 in place, Utahns wanting to acquire an abortion for reasons outside of these circumstances will have to travel to a clinic in the nearest abortion-friendly state, Colorado. 

According to a recent survey, the majority of Americans support maintaining Roe v. Wade and keeping abortion legal. 

Planned Parenthood Utah said they would continue to provide abortion services until the law came into effect, after which the organization would have to stop performing abortions and refer those seeking it to facilities in other states.

Thousands Gather at Utah State Capitol to Protest the Ruling

The Supreme Court’s decision has been met with anger and celebration across the country. In Utah, thousands of people gathered at the state capitol to protest the decision. 

The rally was organized by Planned Parenthood. Another group of protestors, organized by the Utah Coalition of Leftists, met at Washington Square Park and marched up to the capitol building to join the rally. 

The crowd packed in tight, filled the steps of the Capitol and stretched back into the grass. Signs stuck out from the crowd, reading various messages including “abortion is healthcare” and “bans off our bodies.” 

Various community members delivered speeches at the event, including a church minister, representatives from local organizations like Comunidades Unidas and women with personal experiences with abortion. 

Candida Duran Taveras, director of community engagement at Planned Parenthood Utah, opened the event by acknowledging the ongoing struggle for abortion access prior to the supreme court’s decision. 

“Roe was a right by name, but access to abortion care was never guaranteed,” Taveras said. “Black, Indigenous and other communities of color, immigrant communities, people with low incomes, people with disabilities … haven’t had access to abortion in the way that they should.”

Reverend Monica Dobbins, minister of the First Unitarian Church of Salt Lake City, spoke about her faith driving her support of abortion rights. 

“Abortion isn’t against everyone’s religion,” Dobbins said. “Unitarian Universalists, Jews, Muslims, Baha’i … also Christians. A majority of American Christians believe abortion should be legal all or most of the time.” 

In between speakers, Taveras led the crowd in chants, including “abortion is a human right” and “our bodies, our lives, our right to decide.”

Demonstrators at the protest of the overturning of Roe v. Wade at the Utah State Capitol on Friday, June 24, 2022. (Photo by Xiangyao “Axe” Tang | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

One woman named Heather shared her personal abortion story, beginning and ending her speech with the words, “I have had an abortion.” 

“I never shied away from talking about my abortion because I do not think I did anything that I should be ashamed of,” Heather said. “One in four women have had an abortion, so I know I’m not alone.” 

Denise Weaver, organizer for the Party of Socialism and Liberation, spoke critically of the Supreme Court justices for their actions. 

“In this purported democracy of ours,” Weaver said, “how is it possible that five millionaires who were never elected, who serve life terms, get to decide the fate of tens of millions of women?” 


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