SALT LAKE CITY – Gov. Gary Herbert recently directed state agencies to stop serving as an intermediary for federal funds to Planned Parenthood after video surfaced of the organization’s employees allegedly discussing the sale of aborted fetal tissue, and Wednesday he and other state leaders joined anti-abortion advocates at a rally calling for U.S. lawmakers to defund the program.
“I’m here today to add my voice to yours, in standing up for the sanctity of life,” Herbert said.
Herbert and other state leaders addressed a crowd of anti-abortion protesters Wednesday in the rotunda of the State Capitol.
“The bigger person stands up for those who need them the most,” said Rep. Mia Love, a Republican who represents Utah’s Fourth Congressional District in Congress.
After video surfaced of Planned Parenthood executives allegedly discussing the price of fetal tissue, Utah joined five other states in removing themselves from the process of funding the program.
“One-point-four-million taxpayer dollars a day go to fund clinics that dismember and piece apart infants and sell their body parts,” said State Senator Margaret Dayton, R-District 15. “How are hearts so hardened that such a thing could happen?”
Those opposed to abortion said they hope U.S. lawmakers will listen to their pleas to stop funding the program.
“We believe that life begins at conception, and we want to be a voice for the voiceless,” said Salt Lake resident Cynthia Edwards.
One supporter of Planned Parenthood said she is against defunding the program because of the resources it offers to women. She said she believes executives’ actions were taken out of context.
“These people were baited into these conversations, and the people who interviewed them misrepresented themselves,” said Tina Escobartaft, an advocate and lobbyist for Planned Parenthood. “They felt comfortable thinking that they were fellow medical professionals.”
While representatives with Planned Parenthood were not available to comment on-camera Wednesday, they released a statement attributed to Karrie Galloway, CEO of Planned Parenthood Action Council of Utah, saying, in part:
“We were shocked to learn late Friday afternoon of Gov. Herbert’s order to the Utah Department of Health to end the disbursement of federal grant money to Planned Parenthood.
This outrageous attack is motivated by recent videos released by extremist anti-abortion activists making completely false claims. The fraudulent group opposes Planned Parenthood’s mission and services and is intent on cutting millions of women and their families off from care at Planned Parenthood.
It’s disappointing that the governor and his advisors were fooled into doing just that: cutting off funding for education programs and STI testing. The governor’s order jeopardizes services that reduce unintended pregnancy and that keep Utahns safe and healthy. None of these funds go towards providing abortion services, per state and federal law.
Let’s be clear: this executive order is political grandstanding at its worst. It’s playing politics with the health of thousands of Utahns who rely on Planned Parenthood.
At Planned Parenthood, we believe that everyone deserves the chance to choose their own path to a healthy and meaningful life. As the most trusted provider of reproductive health care in Utah for almost 50 years, we’ll continue to fight for all Utahns and their families.”
Representatives from Planned Parenthood said they did not participate in Wednesday’s Women Betrayed rally. They’re hosting their own rally next Tuesday on the south steps of the State Capitol at 6 p.m.