The past few weeks have served as a reminder that, when it comes to abortion, there’s never a shortage of strong opinions.
The latest came from a nationwide protest on Saturday, calling all federal funding to be stripped from Planned Parenthood and redirected toward health centers that do not offer abortions. #DefundPP sparked more than 200 rallies across the nation, including three in Utah.
In Salt Lake City, a group of about 15 pro-life supporters rallied in front of the Planned Parenthood Metro Health Center—an abortion clinic at 160 S. 1000 East that was closed that day.
“We’re trying to get people to realize how much money is going to them and why,” the event’s organizer, Michelle Thacker, said, “and to get our voice out there to contact our senators—that’s primarily the reason for today’s rally.”
Among the extensive list of complaints by #DefundPP is the accusation that Planned Parenthood sells and profits from fetal tissue—a claim alleged by a series of videos released in 2015. After several investigations, however, no evidence has been found to support it.
They also argue that Planned Parenthood is “cornering the market on abortion,” and that its role as women’s health care providers is exaggerated.
Thacker noted that defunding Planned Parenthood would not make affordable reproductive health care less accessible. Though not as widely known, she said, other providers are available and can be found at getyourcare.org.
“Unfortunately, Planned Parenthood has become a household name. Everybody thinks that it’s a good thing and that’s their only option, but it’s really not,” she said. “I think it’s really important to educate and to let women know that there’s plenty of other help out there.”
Clutching a pastel blue sign that read, “Dads for Life,” protester Jim Timmel echoed many of Thacker’s sentiments, but added that his Evangelical Christian faith and love for his family also play major roles in his opposition of Planned Parenthood.
When Timmel’s ill mother became pregnant back in 1948, he said, her doctor urged her to have the fetus aborted. But she decided against it. “I’m a father and a grandfather. I have three kids and eight grandchildren,” he said. “None of that would’ve happened if my mother had aborted me.”
Karrie Galloway, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Association of Utah, issued a statement in response to Saturday’s events, assuring that the care they provide is not motivated by politics; their patients’ well-being is their primary concern.
“Each year, nearly 46,000 women, men and young people rely on Planned Parenthood Association of Utah for quality, affordable reproductive health care,” Galloway said in the statement. “Defunding Planned Parenthood means blocking patients from accessing birth control, cancer screenings and STI testing at Planned Parenthood health centers. That’s not what Utahns want, and we’re not going to let that happen.”