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Gov. Gary Herbert, U.S. Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, and a dozen lawmakers joined anti-abortion Utahns on Wednesday in a rally calling for federal defunding of Planned Parenthood.
"This is not a right and left issue for me," Love told a cheering crowd of about 300 in the Capitol Rotunda. "It is a right and wrong issue."
Carrying signs with such messages as "Put an end to the holocaust," and "Adoption is a beautiful choice," the crowd heard from several legislators, a University of Utah student involved in Students for Life, and a woman who regretted her 2008 abortion.
Herbert last week announced the Utah Department of Health will no longer pass through federal funding to Planned Parenthood, even though that funding was for non-abortion services such as sexually transmitted-disease testing, sexual abstinence-education, and kits to test those who've been raped for pregnancy and STDs.
"We are not going to stop that funding. It just won't be made available through Planned Parenthood," the governor said.
Utah already forbids using taxpayer money for abortions. Federal law does the same.
Still, the governor said Utah is sending the message "actions have consequences" to Planned Parenthood, which is being scrutinized after five secretly recorded videotapes were made public this summer.
The anti-abortion Center for Medical Progress says the tapes show Planned Parenthood illegally sells fetal tissue for profit. Planned Parenthood says it receives legal payments only for the cost associated with providing the tissue. And such tissue transfers require the mother's consent.
"The thing I find most appalling is the casualness, the callousness … the lack of respect, the lack of sensitivity to the unborn," Herbert said, referring to the videotapes.
The South Jordan City Council, under the signature of Mayor Dave Alvord, this week joined in the debate, sending a letter to Love asking that she vote to defund abortion if the chance comes up. Alvord posted the letter on his public Facebook page.
Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, called abortion "grisly and despicable," and Sen. Curtis Bramble, R-Provo, said he and his wife could not bring themselves to follow doctors' advice in 1985 that they abort their fourth child for his wife's health. Despite having just one kidney, she went on to have two more kids.
"For the Bramble family, abortion is not a question of academics or philosophy or politics. ... It's about the life of a precious young man," said Bramble.
The senator said he plans to sponsor legislation requiring Utah abortion clinics to anesthetize fetuses if they can feel pain during the procedure. "If we could stop all abortions we would," he said.
A Utah law from 2009 already allows Utah women to choose to anesthetize fetuses over 20 weeks old if they are terminating a pregnancy.
While scientists are divided about when fetuses can feel pain, the Utah Department of Health drafted "truthful, nonmisleading information" for a mandatory brochure about fetal pain handed out to women seeking to end a pregnancy.
Lauren Keeling, who is involved with Students for Life at the University of Utah, said she believes "abortion has killed 25 percent of my generation."
And Keeling argued that defunding Planned Parenthood will not hurt women's health, as the organization's supporters say.
Planned Parenthood does not provide mammograms for breast cancer detection, for instance, while more than 8,700 clinics do such exams, Keeling said.
Taylee Winder of Layton described her wrenching realization that she'd made a mistake after a 2008 abortion while she was a junior at the U.
Flanked by her husband and two young children, Winder said she was born again in 2011, and was healed of her guilt and shame by Christ. When she watched the first Planned Parenthood videotape this summer, "a wave of unexplainable emotion crashed through my heart," said Winder.
She had her abortion at a Salt Lake City clinic that is not affiliated with Planned Parenthood, she said later.
One of the rally's organizers from Women Betrayed, Callie Oppedisano, recounted a time when she and others at her Catholic parish helped a woman pregnant with triplets decide not to abort. "Outrage will not stop abortion. Outreach will stop abortion," Oppedisano said.
Three Planned Parenthood supporters held signs, but did not disrupt the rally.
Tina Escobar-Taft's bright pink sign said she would have been a teen mom if not for Planned Parenthood, and her son held a sign saying that because of Planned Parenthood, he has a mom and a dad.
"Because of Planned Parenthood, both of my children have active fathers involved in their lives," she said. Escobar-Taft said she received birth control from the organization.
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