Utahns cheer and jeer the end of Roe v. Wade

U.S. Supreme Court issues landmark decision ending the right to an abortion.

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Hundreds of anti-abortion activists rally at Pro-Life Utah's March for Life at the Utah Capitol on Saturday, in conjunction with the national March for Life in D.C., Jan. 22, 2022.

In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision ending the constitutional right to an abortion, some Utahns celebrated — while others decried the decision.

What Utah women are saying

• Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson tweeted that she is “heartsick” about the decision: “I never imagined I would see a rollback of women’s reproductive rights in my lifetime.”

Wilson later said in a statement the she believes the decision to terminate a pregnancy “should not be made by government, but rather by the woman, her closest confidents, and her clergy with the input of mental and physical health advisors.”

“The denial of rights here in Utah will be the greatest burden on women without resources and that is especially troubling,” she added. “Women with means will have the resources to access abortion outside of our state yet those without support and financial resources will be the most impacted.”

• Karrie Galloway, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Association of Utah, called it a “dark day for our country.”

“By overturning Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court has now officially given politicians permission to control what we do with our bodies, deciding that we can no longer be trusted to determine the course for our own lives. This dangerous and chilling decision will have devastating consequences in Utah and across the country, forcing people to travel hundreds, sometimes thousands, of miles for care or remain pregnant.”

Karrie Galloway, executive director of Planned Parenthood of Utah, poses for a portrait at the Utah State Capitol Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Her statement went on to say that “Utahns should know that Planned Parenthood is still here. All our health centers are open. We will keep providing abortion care as long as we can, and our doors will always remain open for sexual and reproductive health services like birth control, STI testing and treatment, and cancer screenings.”

• Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall called the decision “inequitable, unfair and a travesty for women across this nation.”

“I stand with women everywhere who are scared, angry and frustrated with a system that no longer supports reproductive rights,” she tweeted.

• U.S. Senate candidate Becky Edwards, a former member of the Utah House, issued a statement that said: “Now is the time to work together, and across the political divide, to create policies that protect women and children. ... We must prove our devotion to the sanctity of life by moving forward with compassion and care for those that are most vulnerable, with particular regard for mothers and children.”

• Former Salt Lake County Council member Shireen Ghorbani tweeted, “Understand that people with resources will continue to be able to access abortion care and those without money or support will be forced to remain pregnant in a state like Utah.”

• Merrilee Boyack, chair of Abortion-Free Utah, issued this statement about the court’s 6-3 decision: “We are ecstatic about this strong majority decision to overturn Roe. This will essentially eradicate elective abortion in the state of Utah. Thanks to the Dobbs Decision, potentially 3,000 more babies every year will be allowed to live in our state alone!”

• Utah Gov. Spencer Cox and Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson issued a joint statement where they said they “wholeheartedly” support the court’s decision: “As pro-life advocates, this administration is equally committed to supporting women and families in Utah. We’ll need to do more to support pregnant women, and children facing poverty and trauma.”

How other politicians and organizations are reacting

• After Friday’s decision was issued, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints updated its topic page on abortion, stating, “The church’s position on this matter remains unchanged. As states work to enact laws related to abortion, church members may appropriately choose to participate in efforts to protect life and to preserve religious liberty.”

The church opposes “elective abortion for personal or social convenience,” and allows exceptions for rape or incest, when the mother’s life is in “serious jeopardy,” and when doctors determine the fetus has “severe defects” and will not survive after birth.

The Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City “welcomes efforts to protect the dignity and sanctity of every life from conception to natural death. We are grateful that the U.S. Supreme Court recognizes the human within in the womb, but we also recognize it is the responses of communities to women in need before, during and after pregnancy and the birth of a child that are the most important to building a culture of life.”

• Utah Sen. Mike Lee celebrated the end of the “national nightmare” of what he called the “wrongly decided” Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey decisions.

“I have never been prouder to have clerked for Justice [Samuel] Alito or the Supreme Court of the United States. I pray for national unity and the safety of the justices of the Supreme Court who ... have faced unprecedented attacks.”

• Utah Senator Mitt Romney said, “the sanctity of human life is a foundational American principle, and the lives of our children — both born and unborn — deserve our protection.”

“I support the court’s decision,” he added, “which means that laws regarding abortion will now rightfully be returned to the people and their elected representatives.”

• Utah First District Rep. Blake Moore cheered the decision: “I am thrilled with today’s Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade. States like Utah have been given back their right to protect the lives of millions of children and support expecting mothers. This is a monumental day in our nation’s history.”

• Utah Third District Rep. John Curtis said he welcomes the decision and appreciates “that state policy makers can now enact laws that align with their values.” He called for lawmakers to “adopt policies that support children in foster care systems, ensure easy and affordable access to contraception, and provide robust resources for women with unplanned pregnancies.”

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah's Third Congressional District incumbent Rep. John Curtis participates in a debate Friday, May 27, 2022 at Brigham Young University.

He went on to say that “while I see this ruling as a cause for celebration, I am also cognizant of those who feel differently” and called for everyone to “treat each other with compassion, and find ways to work together to solve our differences rather than push one another away.”

• Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes issued a statement that he will back the Utah Legislature if the state’s trigger law — which bans abortions with limited exceptions — faces a legal challenge: “The Supreme Court pronouncement is clear. It has returned the question of abortion to the states. And the Utah legislature has answered that question. My office will do its duty to defend the state law against any and all potential legal challenges.”

Stuart Adams, president of the Utah State Senate, called the ruling “a monumental victory for human life,” citing the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness enshrined in the Declaration of Independence.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Senate President Stuart Adams, R-Layton, begins the start of the 2022 legislative session in the Senate chamber at the Utah Capitol in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022.

Adams added that his “commitment to life does not end at birth. Every mother and child, regardless of age, health or dependency, deserves protection, respect and opportunity. It is imperative that we enhance resources, including eliminating barriers surrounding adoption and financial and material support to help mothers and children.”

• Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said Friday that it was “his duty” to enforce the laws in Utah: “If a case is referred to the SLCO DA’s office under a new state law criminalizing abortion services, we will analyze that matter based on the specific facts and evidence, the requirements imposed by Utah law at the time of the events reported, and my ethical obligation to pursue criminal charges only when sufficient evidence exists to support a conviction, the interest of justice will be served by the prosecution, and there is a reasonable likelihood of securing a conviction.”

• Former Gov. Gary Herbert tweeted that he “always believed that this issue should have been decided by the legislative bodies in the respective states and not by the Supreme Court.” He said it’s now the responsibility of state legislatures to put the “appropriate guidelines” in place.

• Some local businesses, like Brass Smoothies and Publik Coffee, planned to close their doors Friday after the ruling was handed down. “See you at Capitol Hill and Washington Square,” Brass Smoothies posted on its front door. Rallies are expected to be held at both locations Friday evening.

(Brass Smoothies via Instagram) Brass Smoothies closed its doors for the day on Friday after the Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade.

Chase Thomas, executive director for Alliance for a Better Utah, issued a statement calling the decision “staggering and upsetting. ... It is alarming that these personal choices have been stripped from individuals and are now placed in the hands of our state’s GOP supermajority, which has not only been hostile toward abortion access but also indifferent toward the needs and rights of women in general.”