A group of about 28 people stood in a circle in Utah’s Capitol Rotunda on Friday donned in pink shirts. Some clutched poster boards, others stood stock still with their hands rested on their hips. Most were women, with a few men scattered throughout the ranks.
The group stood in silence for about 45 minutes, broken every few seconds by a recorded voice coming out of a faux pink bird with messages — some of hope and others of frustration — for Utah lawmakers.
“We put a message out to the public saying if they have things they want to say to the Legislature, they could send us a message, we put it into this program and then it comes out from our little bird," said Karrie Galloway, the CEO and president of Planned Parenthood Utah, who headed the event.
Planned Parenthood has felt discouraged this legislative session, Galloway said, because legislators are once again going forward with divisive “message" bills.
Galloway criticized HB166 — a bill aimed at banning abortions performed because the fetus has Down syndrome.
“The Down syndrome bill is taking advantage of people in a very difficult part of their life to make a message about abortion, I find it cynical and a little heartless,” she said of the measure that has passed the Legislature and awaits the governor’s signature.
About another bill, HB136, Galloway said its sponsor is a legislator trying to “make a name for herself." Rep. Cheryl Acton, R-West Jordan, wants her bill banning abortions after 18 weeks of gestation to go to the Supreme Court without regard to whether it is constitutional or not, Galloway said.
Acton later pushed back against Galloway’s characterizations, saying she chose to pursue the legislation because it’s the right thing to do.
“I care about this issue because it is the moral issue of our time — the issue by which our society will be judged by future generations,” Acton said in a written statement to The Tribune.
“I do not believe the justices who comprised the court that decided Roe v. Wade contemplated a time when we would have 880,000 abortions per year in our country — a number roughly equivalent to the [population of the] city of San Francisco.”
HB136 passed out of the House earlier this week and is expected to be taken up in the Senate next week.