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Protestors take to Provo streets after abortion ruling

By Harrison Epstein - | Jun 26, 2022
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Abortion rights protesters listen to speakers from the Party for Socialism and Liberation on the steps of the Provo Historic Courthouse in Provo on Saturday, June 25, 2022.
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Protesters march down Center Street in Provo in support of abortion rights on Saturday, June 25, 2022.
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Chloe Sokol speaks to a crowd of abortion rights protesters on the steps of the Provo Historic Courthouse in Provo on Saturday, June 25, 2022.
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Protesters march down Center Street in Provo in support of abortion rights on Saturday, June 25, 2022.
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Protestors march in support of abortion rights past the Provo City Center Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Provo on Saturday, June 25, 2022.
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Kaylee Reinitz, left, and Chloe Sokol, right, lead a group of protesters marching down Center Street in Provo in support of abortion rights on Saturday, June 25, 2022.
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Kelli Potter, a member of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, speaks before a protest in support of abortion rights at Pioneer Park in Provo on Saturday, June 25, 2022.
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Protesters march down Center Street in Provo in support of abortion rights on Saturday, June 25, 2022.
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Abortion rights protesters listen to speakers from the Party for Socialism and Liberation on the steps of the Provo Historic Courthouse in Provo on Saturday, June 25, 2022.

Several hundred Provo residents, and others from around Utah County, gathered in the city’s Pioneer Park on Saturday to protest the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade.

On Friday, the court’s ruling eliminated the federal right to an abortion, leaving it to the states to decide. Within the day, attorneys with the Utah Legislature determined that the state’s trigger ban would go into effect — banning all elective abortions in the state.

The protest was organized and led by members of the Party for Socialism and Liberation. Attendees from toddlers to senior citizens marched from Pioneer Park down Center Street to the Provo Historic Courthouse.

Megan Tippetts, a Provo resident, decided to protest to rally together with other people angry over the Supreme Court ruling, especially, she said, in a deeply conservative area like Utah County.

“Events like this — to see other people doing it — are super encouraging. I think standing with other people who feel the same way is super encouraging,” she said.

While signs were made available by the organizers, plenty of people brought their own with emotions ranging from sorrow to anger, with the occasional pop culture reference.

Standing off to the side, though, were Aspen and Ian Dalton with their child sitting in a stroller. The Daltons were each holding their own signs, one reading “Moms for Choice,” the other with “Dads for Choice” scrawled in crayon.

While standing together, each had their own reason for standing up and speaking out.

“I wasn’t sure where I stood on abortion before I became a mom, and as soon as I became pregnant I realized how hard pregnancy and being a mom was and I suddenly understood why people would choose an abortion and why that would be the right choice for them,” Aspen Dalton said.

Ian Dalton felt the same as his wife, and said on issues like reproductive health care, where men are not as directly affected, they have a different purpose to serve.

“I firmly believe there’s a lot of instances — especially when it comes to working to make the world a better place — that men either have to stand up or step aside and make room for those people who are marginalized or need to have their voices heard,” he said. “When it comes to abortion rights, this is a situation where men, we also have to stand up and we also have to make our voices heard. Men are the causes of unwanted pregnancies, so we’ve got to get our s— together if we want to make it work.”

Before marching, Kelli Potter, one of the organizers, reminded the crowd to stay on the sidewalk and not cross into the streets. During a 2020 protest against police brutality in Provo, a man drove through a group of protestors gathered in an intersection and was shot.

For a majority of the protestors, the chants were rooted in anger while the emotions behind them were kept personal.

Chloe Sokol, 19, stood on the steps of the Provo Historic Courthouse to share the story of her own abortion. Just two weeks ago, she told the crowd, she felt nauseous and took a pregnancy test in a CVS bathroom. Despite taking precautions and using birth control, she still became pregnant and decided to terminate.

“I saw that double line stare back at me and looked back in disbelief,” she told the crowd. Sokol then relayed what her “extremely” pro-life mother told her — “No one gets to make this choice but you.”

With the occasional bursts of cheers and chants, the crowd marched their way back down Center Street to the park. Well after the protest officially ended and some, even those who joined the protest late, had started to leave, others took to the sidewalk.

They held their signs, cheering with every honk of support from a passing car.

Throughout the evening, only one counter-protestor made themselves known to the crowd. Someone, while driving past the courthouse, shouted “baby killers” at the group before continuing down the street. Despite that single outburst, and the shared belief that some passersby probably disagreed with their messages — or at least the occasional vulgarity — the protestors held firm in their shared beliefs.

“Abortion, even though it’s scary, isn’t the horrible scary thing that people can sometimes make it out to be. It is not a position any woman wants to willingly find herself in,” Sokol said. “I had the choice, I had the option to have my abortion and that is extremely important. I am very glad I had my abortion and don’t regret it one bit.”

A pro-life protest is scheduled for July 2 at the Utah State Capitol between the Eagle Forum and other anti-abortion groups.

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