The ground began to shake on Monday night.
That’s when the D.C. news site Politico reported on a leaked initial draft decision that suggested the Supreme Court of the United States is likely to strike down the landmark decision Roe v. Wade, which has protected roughly half of the bodies in our nation since 1973.
Access to reproductive healthcare hasn’t changed in Utah — yet. But the suggestion makes the ground beneath my feet vibrate with the fury of millions of people who would again share their medical choices with their politicians.
As much as I respect my state legislators, Rep. Joel Briscoe and Sen. Derek Kitchen, they’re not who I want to turn to for guidance around my reproductive health. Stellar humans they are, but they’re not me, my partner, my family or my medical provider.
My Tribune colleague Becky Jacobs wrote about the logistics and legalities for Utahns if Roe v. Wade is overturned. She explained that Utah’s trigger law banning elective abortions could go into effect, and she reported on what options people would have to access legal healthcare in nearby states.
Essentially, SB174, which was sponsored by Utah Sen. Dan McCay and made into law by the Utah Legislature’s mostly uterus-lacking members, suggests that abortion is criminal except when they decide it’s not.
It’s infuriating, belittling, demoralizing and inhuman to suggest that a real estate attorney, say, is better equipped to make health or family planning decisions for his or her constituents than they are for themselves.
With all due respect, you may exit my uterus stage left, kind sirs.
I saw Utah State Senate President Stuart Adams tweeted shortly after the leak that “life is worth protecting,” and I couldn’t agree more. What is life, though, if, based on your geographic location, you live without freedom over your own flesh?
I called my friend, legal rights advocate Marina Lowe, who spoke about the detriment of this possible patchwork of freedom.
“I’m deeply saddened to imagine a country where control of your body is legal in one state and criminal in another,” she said, also lamenting the erosion (my word, not hers) of the legitimacy of our highest court if it can so swiftly take away the rights it once provided, simply because of the political whims of its justices.
The whole scenario is a disaster.
There is data at every turn to suggest that not only are abortion bans ineffective, they’re devasting and lethal. People still seek and receive abortions regardless of the law (Planned Parenthood clinics in states near Texas have already reported influxes of Texans seeking healthcare at their facilities) and the lack of safe access significantly increases the risk of pregnancy-related deaths.
I see Sen. Adams words again in my mind.
“Life is worth protecting.”
The hard truth is that the governance of women’s bodies is rooted in racism and misogyny and has long existed not to “protect lives” but to control them, so they remain in service to those who make the rules.
And while the official ruling expected in June seems like it may be to the detriment of the majority of our nation, I suppose the leak provides us some time to rouse the rabble. But we need to show up and get right to work.
As my friend Ashley said on the fundraiser I created for Planned Parenthood Association of Utah shortly after the leak, as a way of channeling my pain into progress: “We ride at dawn.”
Marina Gomberg is a professional communicator, a practicing optimist and a lover of love. She lives in Salt Lake City with her wife, Elenor Gomberg, and their son, Harvey. You can reach Marina at firstname.lastname@example.org.