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City Councilor wants Park City lobbyist to defend abortion rights

U.S. Supreme Court ruling on request to overturn Roe v. Wade is pending

Pamela Manson
The Park Record
Shown here at an earlier city council meeting, City Councilor Becca Gerber said she wants to authorize the city’s lobbyist to speak in defense of abortion rights on behalf of community members if the issue reaches the state level.
David Jackson/Park Record

The Park City Council could be joining the fight over abortion if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized the procedure.

At a Thursday meeting, City Councilor Becca Gerber said she wants to authorize the city’s lobbyist to speak in defense of abortion rights on behalf of community members if the issue reaches the state level.

“I think we all understand the state we live in and that it’s a huge uphill battle but at the same point in time, I think it would be a huge miss for us not to say something when half of our residents are losing their rights,” Gerber said.



Park City has two lobbyists under contract, one for state-level issues and the other for federal-level issues.

The other four city councilors said they want to discuss Gerber’s request.



“I would like to have the conversation and make sure that the public does have the opportunity to weigh in,” City Councilor Tana Toly said.

City Councilor Max Doilney said local governments are the last line of defense for many people when their rights are stripped. He cited the efforts of Local Progress, a group of local elected officials across the nation, to continue to advance reproductive freedom, including access to abortion, birth control and gender-affirming care.

“A couple of little things we can do just off the cuff is make sure we’re funding organizations that protect people who are seeking care and ensure access to unbiased information,” Doilney, a Local Progress member, said. “These are all part of our social equity efforts. We need to make sure that we are always paying attention to those things so that people in our community feel safe and feel free to make decisions for themselves.”

The lobbyist discussion will take place at a future meeting.

A decision in a Mississippi case that could upend abortion laws across the nation is pending.

The Supreme Court heard arguments on Dec. 1 in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a challenge to the constitutionality of a state law that prohibits abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy with a few exceptions. Fetal viability is generally considered to begin at the 24-week mark.

When the case landed at the Supreme Court, the question before the justices was whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional. However, the lawyers representing Mississippi went further and asked the court to outright overturn Roe v. Wade, a 1973 opinion that said the right of personal privacy includes the decision to terminate a pregnancy.

Ending federal protections for abortion would allow state legislatures to ban or impose strict limits on the procedure.

The Supreme Court is expected to hand down a decision by the end of its term in June, but a leak appears to have revealed which way the justices seem to be leaning. On May 2, Politico, which covers politics and policy, reported it had obtained an initial draft opinion that shows the majority supports striking down Roe v. Wade.

Many states, including Utah, have so-called trigger laws that would take effect if the constitutional right to abortion is eroded. These laws would enact abortion bans that begin before viability or prohibit abortions with few exceptions.

Utah’s current law requires women to complete a state-mandated online education module and a face-to-face informed consent session and then wait 72 hours before an abortion.

The state’s trigger law, which was passed in 2020, would ban abortions except when they are necessary to avert the death of the mother; there is a serious risk of “substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function” of the woman; the fetus has a defect that is “uniformly diagnosable and uniformly lethal” or has a severe brain abnormality that is uniformly diagnosable; or the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.

Twenty-six states are certain or likely to ban abortion if the Supreme Court overturns or guts Roe v. Wade, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights research and policy organization.

Utah has joined 23 other states in a friend-of-the-court brief that argues the Roe v. Wade ruling created a nonexistent constitutional right to elective abortion. Utah Sen. Mike Lee and two other Republican senators, Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas, filed a separate brief in support of Mississippi.

 


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