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The Planned Parenthood Association of Utah is one of the state's biggest human rights champions, according to the Salt Lake City Mayor's Office.
The local affiliate is among a trio of this year's Human Rights Awards winners, announced Tuesday. It also is one of several nationwide to have its federal funding cut by a Republican governor, but the nod is not a response to those GOP moves from Utah's left-leaning capital, said Kilo Zamora, chairman of the Human Rights Commission.
"It's an award that's past due," Zamora said. "This is about women's health."
The honor recognizes that the group improves life for Salt Lake City's women, Zamora said.
"We are enormously honored to receive this award," said Karrie Galloway, CEO of Planned Parenthood Association of Utah, in a prepared statement. Her group is trying to secure reproductive rights, she added, for thousands of Salt Lake City residents and others across the state.
"On their behalf, I thank the city for this distinguished award," Galloway said.
This is the third year, Zamora recalls, that the Utah Planned Parenthood affiliate has been nominated for the prize, given by the diversity and human rights arm of Mayor Ralph Becker's administration.
For example, the group educates teens about healthy sex and helps the city's women stay safe by providing free services such as STD testing, Zamora added.
Others are not so fond of the organization. At the Utah Capitol, a state senator plans to bring a measure to cut public money from reaching any group, including Planned Parenthood, that informs patients about where they can go to have an abortion. State Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, said in recent weeks she is working out the details on the proposal, which she intends to sponsor in the 2016 legislative session.
Gov. Gary Herbert blocked federal funding to Planned Parenthood's Utah affiliate in August, after the release of videos secretly recorded by an anti-abortion group. The footage showed Planned Parenthood officials in other states talking about compensation for fetal tissue used for research.
The Planned Parenthood Association of Utah sued the governor in response, saying he unfairly discriminated against the organization based on his political agenda.
State attorneys counter the reaction was warranted because the state group is connected to the national organization, which Herbert said may have "colored outside the lines."
The controversy may have been a motive in Friday's shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs that left three dead and nine wounded. The gunman reportedly told authorities "no more baby parts" after his arrest.
Utah's organization will receive its honor at a Dec. 10 event. Mansoor Emam, a doctor who founded the The Hope Clinic in Midvale and the Maliheh Free Clinic in South Salt Lake, also will be recognized. The other winner is the late Frank Cordova, an advocate for Latinos who was president of Centro Civico Mexicano and a member of the Democratic Hispanic Caucus.
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