This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Hundreds of Utahns donned pink and chanted "Fund Planned Parenthood" on the Capitol steps Tuesday evening, blasting Gov. Gary Herbert for putting a stop to federal funds flowing through the state of Utah to the reproductive-health organization.
Local leaders of Planned Parenthood, Democratic lawmakers and other supporters waved magenta signs on the steps, urging Herbert to reverse the order.
"We're here because the governor has chosen politics over health care," said Planned Parenthood of Utah Executive Director Karrie Galloway to cheers.
Utah Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck agreed.
"We're here for people who can't be here today," including rural Utahns and "that victim of sex violence that needs to get help and assistance and testing but she doesn't know where to turn," said the Salt Lake City Democrat.
Chavez-Houck noted that previously, the governor signaled the importance of awareness about sexual health for Utahns in 2012 when he vetoed legislation that would have allowed Utah schools to restrict sex education classes in public schools from mentioning sex before marriage or contraception.
"Where are you now, Gov. Herbert?" Chavez-Houck asked on the overcast, 90-degree evening.
Spurred by the release of a video of an official from Planned Parenthood's national organization discussing prices of fetal tissue for scientific research, Herbert earlier this month announced the Utah Department of Health would stop being a channel for federal money set aside for Planned Parenthood.
The governor said damming the flow of federal dollars to Planned Parenthood holds the group accountable for "coloring outside the lines," but won't affect educational programs to prevent teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Federal and state money is already prevented by law from going toward abortion services.
The anti-abortion Center for Medical Progress says the tapes show the organization illegally sells fetal tissue for profit.
Planned Parenthood maintains it receives legal payments only for the cost associated with providing the tissue. And such tissue transfers require the mother's consent.
Last year, Planned Parenthood performed 1,602 abortions in Utah. It provided birth control to roughly 23,000 patients, as well as breast and testicular screenings to about 25,000, according to its annual report.
While Planned Parenthood organizers estimated their crowd on the Capitol steps at 2,500, about 50 anti-abortion protesters struck a quieter tone inside the Capitol Rotunda, holding signs and taking turns speaking from a podium.
Among the crowd was Mary Taylor of South Jordan, who said she believes health providers at a Planned Parenthood facility in Salt Lake City deliberately misled her 35 years ago. She went to the organization for information, weighing whether to terminate her 11-week-old pregnancy.
"They told me it was a cluster of cells the size of a pencil point," Taylor said, "but was in no way, shape or form a baby at that point in life."
She opted to have the abortion and said she later found out "my baby was about 2 inches long" at the time she had gone to the clinic.
"There's a world of a difference between those," Taylor said, adding she would have kept the baby if she had known the extent of its development.
She initially believed the employee was simply misinformed, but said she has changed her mind after talking with others online who had similar experiences.
"I've got a lot of things that I would rather be doing," she said, "but I will stand here until this horror stops."
It was the third anti-abortion protest since Herbert ordered state agencies to stop disbursing funds to Planned Parenthood. Also in the Rotunda last week, Herbert, a Republican, joined U.S. Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, a dozen lawmakers and other Utahns in calling for the federal government to defund Planned Parenthood.
Utah Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, has said he plans to sponsor legislation requiring Utah abortion clinics to anesthetize fetuses if they can feel pain during the procedure.
Scientists are divided about when fetuses can feel pain, but 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.
A Utah law from 2009 already allows Utah women to choose to anesthetize fetuses over 20 weeks old if they are terminating a pregnancy.
On Tuesday, Rep. Angela Romero, a Salt Lake City Democrat, said she believes many female legislators would push back against such a proposal. "We're prepared to fight it."
Speaking in front of the Capitol, Romero shared stories of connecting their own children to Planned Parenthood for information and services. Romero said from her own experience as a college student seeking resources from the organization, she knew it to be a source for reliable information and respectful staff.
"I was raised in a very fundamental Catholic home," Romero said. "We never ever talked about what sex meant. So I didn't know really how to have that conversation with myself."
Other state and local Democrats, including Salt Lake City Democrat Jim Dabakis, also voiced their support.
For Leah Weisgal, a Westminster College student from New York, the organization helped her recover from heroin addiction and sex assault, and gave her resources to have an abortion as a teenager.
"I went to Planned Parenthood when I had nowhere else to go," said Weisgal, now president of Students for Choice at Westminster. "I felt I had dug myself so deep I could not be honest with my school or my fam or my pediatrician."
Dan Robinson, a pastor at North Valley Bible Church, said he came to the Capitol from his home in Ogden to offer another perspective.
"We've been sold on the idea in our country that abortion is no big thing," he said. "The thought of any woman having an abortion is awful."