Utah lawmakers continue to attack reproductive rights
Originally published by Breaking the Chains magazine.
The Utah lawmaker’s continued attacks on women’s reproductive rights, while nationwide abortion restrictions are increasing, is a telltale sign that these right-wing lawmakers won’t stop their escalation of war. against women’s bodily autonomy. This war will only escalate when the Supreme Court formally rules in late June on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, which is expected to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion case. Despite increasing attacks across the country and in Utah, working class, poor and oppressed women nationally and other oppressed people will not sit idly by. Now is the time to show our state legislature that women, transgender, and gender non-conforming people will decide our fate through militant mass mobilization.
Utah’s legislative session began on January 18 and ended on March 4 during which a number of anti-abortion and anti-trans bills were introduced. HB 382, which did not pass the House committee, would have further increased restrictions on abortion by requiring all patients undergoing informed consent counseling sessions to make two trips to a center for health care at least 72 hours apart. Along with multiple trips, they also allegedly had to go through a biased online module allegedly describing abortion procedures and fetal development. HB 127, which also failed to pass the House committee, allegedly accused medical professionals of ‘unprofessional conduct’ for providing gender-affirming health care to people under 18 years.
HB 11, another anti-trans bill, prohibits transgender girls from participating in K-12 school sports. This bill was swiftly passed on the final night of the 2022 General Session, a last-minute decision undermining any public input, while blinding other lawmakers.
National far-right attacks on abortion have steadily escalated as Democrats, controlling all branches of government, have failed not just once, but twice, to codify abortion rights in law by passing the Women’s Health Protection Act. Not only have the Democrats failed, but an unelected body of officials, the Supreme Court, is poised to strike down Roe — which represents the bare minimum of abortion access in the United States.
Abortion access for Utah women will be further restricted if Roe is overturned, due to a trigger law, which goes into effect if the Court overturns this landmark decision. This will lead to a burden for Utahns seeking abortion services to travel to Colorado, Nevada or New Mexico. In addition, the Utah Republican Platform on April 19 presented a proposal to omit “rape or incest” language from current restrictive abortion laws, an even tougher stance than that of the church of the latter day saints. Fortunately, the proposal failed to become GOP policy by the end of the convention.
Utahns fight back
During the legislative session, organizers from the Party for Socialism and Liberation staged a protest outside the Houses of the House to demand the defeat of the restrictive bills (HB 382, HB 127 and HB 11) and support bills that would improve the quality of life for Utahns such as HB 77, HB 105, HB 220 and so on.
Since the approval of anti-trans bill HB 11, a rally in support of trans youth has taken place at the Utah State Capitol, while high schools and a college have protested with student walkouts in opposition. The momentum for this mobilization has only intensified since the leaked Supreme Court draft indicated that the majority of the Court intended to overthrow Roe. Since May 2, several rallies in support of abortion rights in Utah have taken place, including nationwide appeals, uniting thousands of supporters in the reproductive rights movement.
Clearly, the movement’s momentum has grown and only propelled forward despite the onslaught of right-wing attacks, the Democrats’ failure to pass the WHPA, and the leaking of the bill from the Supreme Court. Thousands of Utahns continued to take to the streets, mobilizing many women, trans and gender non-conforming people in the fight for reproductive rights.
Taking to the streets has always been the way the working class writes history. The history of feminist and LGBTQ movements in the United States takes root in struggle. Roe was not handed to us on a silver platter. We must remember what it meant to mobilize millions of working class women, trans people and gender non-conforming people to the streets, to fight tooth and nail, to defend basic human rights.
The issue of access to abortion is not an individual issue, but a collective and broader issue that will directly affect millions of people. Due to direct attacks on reproductive health, the right to safe and legal abortion has not only been systematically curtailed, but is now likely to be completely so.
Utah is one of several states that has an abortion trigger law that can go into effect immediately if Roe is overturned. Utah’s trigger law, SB 174, could go into effect in about a month, banning nearly everything abortions except in cases of rape, incest or if the pregnancy is life-threatening. This moment calls for thousands of Utahns to make concrete demands that push for the repeal of SB 174. As the fight continues to grow, pressure can be brought to bear on politicians to pass progressive laws protecting the access to abortion and demand the repeal of existing laws that harm our class.
- Repeal SB 174!
- Pass WHPA!
- Dismantle and abolish SCOTUS!
- Legalize abortion once and for all!
It is imperative that we keep alive the deeply rooted history of struggle by fighting for socialist solutions to the problems caused by the capitalist system of exploitation. Only a revolutionary victory can guarantee our right to access free, safe and legal abortions and other health services. The participation and leadership of working women, the nationally oppressed and the LGTBQ community will unite and help build a militant mass mobilization of working people in struggle.
The Party for Socialism and Liberation – Salt Lake will hold a protest Saturday, May 21 in defense of abortion rights in Washington Square Park at 1 p.m.