Marina Gomberg: Asking Gov. Cox what it means to be ‘pro-life’

“With all due respect, Governor Cox, my trust in your reverence for life has been tested this session.”

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Marina Gomberg.

Dear Governor Cox,

I have been trying to reach you regarding your signing of HB 467, which effectively bans abortion in Utah except for under a few circumstances. Emailing, calling and tweeting haven’t connected us yet, so I hope this will.

I’ve been reading a book called “After” by Dr. Bruce Greyson, about near-death experiences, and have been surprised at the degree to which it has shifted my view of life, death and humanity.

I’d usually refer to myself as a curious cynic. I wonder a lot, but tend to believe only what can be proven.

The research the book presents, though, has given me reason to doubt we are just masses of atoms that are self-referential and advanced at responding to stimuli. (This is weird, but we’re going somewhere, so bear with me here.)

It presents, in my opinion, a scientific rationale for spirituality in a world where so many things can make us reluctant to have faith — to question if we’re part of something bigger or more lasting than our physical bodies.

I now wonder: Could our consciousness and our bodies be two separate things that merge into one while we live on Earth? And if so, it seems clear when they may separate at death, but I wonder at what point they merge to become life.

This, I think, is one of the main reasons for such passionate debate about abortion. When does a being become more complex than just the mass of its cells?

The truth is, we can interpret the scientific data and trust our gut instincts, but we don’t really know.

Even with my newfound and profound hunch about our existence, it is very clear to me that we cannot pretend to have a reverence for life while reducing access to abortions.

With all due respect, Governor Cox, my trust in your reverence for life has been tested this session.

Codifying into law anti-transgender legislation that will likely increase suffering and perhaps come at the cost of human lives doesn’t suggest a “pro-life” stance.

Neither does signing legislation that keeps Utah from enforcing commonsense firearm restrictions.

This is true, too, of abortion policy. All the reliable data illuminates how lack of access to abortions jeopardizes women’s health and livelihood, both of which have direct negative impacts on families.

The reality is grim. Maternal mortality significantly increases as does the likelihood of children dying in their first months of life. This is in addition to the negative economic impacts on women and families in places where abortions are banned.

Women of color bear the brunt of these inequities, so when we talk about protecting vulnerable communities, we have a clear place to start.

Among the more profound truths is that abortion bans don’t actually reduce the number of abortions from unintended pregnancies — they just put women and families at risk by reducing the number of safe abortions.

I’d like to think it is not the Utah Way.

I’d like not to worry that the intention is actually to rob women of their autonomy.

Where this law deems cases of rape as exclusions to the rule, I’d like to think that a woman doesn’t have to lose her agency in becoming pregnant in order to earn her agency in ending it.

And if any exclusions to the rule exist, I’d like to think that our lawmakers have the humility to recognize that nobody is better able to make the weighty decision about terminating a pregnancy than the person who is pregnant and their health care provider.

I’d like to have faith that you and our state lawmakers share a reverence for life.

Please help me believe.

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, and their dogs, Mr. Noodle and Gorgonzola. You can reach Marina at mgomberg@sltrib.com.

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