The Utah Reproductive Policy Coalition is a bipartisan group working to promote evidence based reproductive policies to improve the health of Utah citizens.
Toward that goal, we bring individuals and families together with policymakers for dialog regarding medically sound, responsible family planning and its role in fostering Utahns’ freedom, opportunity and well-being.
A HEALTHIER UTAH
“When women can decide whether and when to have children; when women can decide whether and when and whom to marry; when women have access to healthcare…then women flourish…and our families and communities flourish with us.”
Melinda Gates, The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World
The Utah Reproductive Policy Coalition formed in the summer of 2020, in backyards and on
Zoom calls. We are a group of elected officials, professionals from fields including medicine,
law and education, stay-at-home parents, and advocates for issues affecting the lives of women,
children and families. Our political affiliations are diverse; as such our group is nonpartisan.
As we met and discussed a topic of vital importance to each of us, it emerged that we believe
Utah policymakers were hearing frequently and passionately from groups who do not value the
role of science and public health data in shaping women’s reproductive health policies. But
policymakers were not hearing in a meaningful way from constituents who value and have
personally benefitted from evidence-based policies.
URPC members believe that current state policies affecting women’s freedom, privacy and
reproductive health – and some proposals being discussed in the Capitol – were not developed
with a medically sound, evidence-based approach. We believe there has been a disconnect
between public health data and public health policy here, and that the effect of such a
disconnect leads to detrimental outcomes for society on both the individual and community levels.
These topics have long incited conflict among people with differing views. But fleeting, one-
dimensional slogans on signs and T-shirts have not furthered dialogue or increased
understanding of critical issues such as sex education, contraception and abortion, and their
role in societal health and well-being.
With issues of such complexity and emotion, involving topics of a highly personal nature, we
wondered if more open, respectful communication between constituents and their
representatives could contribute to policy more aligned with better outcomes.
Though these topics are not easy to discuss for many, we gradually gathered a network of
women (and in some cases their male partners as well) who also felt strongly that
communication could help shape more informed policy. These women agreed to write down
stories of their personal experiences with abortion and share them with legislators in one-on-
one meetings in which there would be no lobbying, no arguing; merely stories told and listened
to with respect.
The URPC sees its work as building a bridge between ‘sides’ of these polarizing issues, which
fundamentally impact women’s lives and and opportunities. Our goal is to deepen
policymakers’ understanding of issues that have long been considered taboo in conversation,
but which for some women (and their partners and families) are matters of utmost importance:
matters of healthy versus unhealthy lives, fulfilled versus unfulfilled lives, economic security
versus poverty – even, for some, life versus death.
WHO WE ARE
Lisa spent most of her career as a business litigator in private practice in New York and Chicago. Lisa holds a B.A. in English from Princeton, and she received her J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School in 2000, where she worked with the mental health project of the Mandel Legal Aid Clinic. Before attending law school, she worked in the policy arena of the Women Employed Institute in Chicago, advocating for economic and equal opportunity issues affecting women and families. Lisa now lives in Park City with her husband and children. She believes that informed reproductive choice -- including sex education, affordable and available contraception, and access to reproductive health services, including abortion -- is a critical component of every person's ability to create a fulfilling, self-driven, and economically stable life for themselves and their families.
Michelle has a journalism degree from California State University, Fresno and is a former daily newspaper reporter and editor. She’s worked 25+ years as a freelance writer and editor, and has long valued efforts to highlight problems confronting society in hopes of increasing the well-being of its most vulnerable members. As a first-generation university graduate who grew up in socioeconomic distress, she has a lifelong awareness of the importance of affordable, accessible contraception, sex education and comprehensive women’s health services in improving outcomes and increasing opportunities for all women and children, but particularly those who are low-income. Michelle lives with her husband and children in Park City.
Gabby was born and raised in Utah and received her B.S. in Political Science form the University of Utah. She is currently working on her MBA. She has been involved in Utah politics and public service for nearly a decade as a grassroots activist, campaign manager and lobbyist for women's issues, medical cannabis policy reform and wildlife conservation. Her greatest passion in life is ensuring that all of Utah's residents- especially those whose voices often go unheard- are afforded the liberty and provided the resources to make decisions on what is best for themselves without fear of unnecessary government oversight. Gabby currently lives in SLC where she enjoys jamming with her band (covid-19 permitting).
RIGHT TO CHOOSE
We believe abortion policy should consider and balance the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness - for both fetuses and pregnant women and their partners. Current Utah law, which criminalizes abortion from the moment a pregnancy test is positive, would take immediate effect if Roe v. Wade is ever overturned. We believe this would result in significant harm to women, families and existing children.
We also oppose legislation mandating that health care providers perform tests on pregnant women that are not medically necessary. We believe the best way to prevent abortion is to ensure that affordable contraception and family planning services are available to all Utahns.
TITLE X FUNDING
In 2019, the state of Utah lost $2.5 Million of federal funding specifically earmarked to help low income women obtain access to family planning services. We believe this funding must be reinstated to ensure that women and men in Utah receive essential reproductive care including cancer screenings, STD tests and treatment and other services crucial to health and well-being.
Birth control is not only a fundamental key to family planning, it is also a necessary medication for women facing diseases such as PCOS, endometriosis and fibroids. We believe Utah women, as well as their partners, need easy access to affordable, reliable birth control to prevent unwanted pregnancies and to properly treat a host of medical conditions in accordance with the best medical research and practices.
Countless studies have demonstrated that the more educated people are regarding their bodies and sexual health, the better choices they make with respect to healthy relationships, abstention, safe sex, contraception, and in other aspects of their lives
We believe that more comprehensive and science-based approaches to sex education in Utah will produce more desirable outcomes in people’s lives, while significantly reducing the number of abortions and unwanted pregnancies. These improvements will ripple outward through society in the form of better maternal and fetal health statistics, child and family mental health concerns, and socioeconomic outcomes.