Teri Orr: What does it mean to be brave?
As I write this, the skies are weeping- the clouds are banging into each other as the heavens shout an exclamation of their shared sadness with us here underneath – it is a kind of chant …we have lost our way. Bam. Thunder. Lightening. Rain. Pay Attention, damn it- it is all connected. The heaven’s message… pay attention!
I am old enough to have seen Roe v. Wade passed, as a young, ovulating woman. I had an abortion- legally, but not easily – here in Utah, in the 80s when I was in my 30s. I had two, barely teenage children and a failing relationship. There were serious viability issues with the fetus. It was a painful medical- physical and mental- decision. It didn’t feel brave – it felt sad- but the best decision for all involved. It is a story for another time. But it was my choice, and the procedure was safely done in a clinic in Salt Lake City.
In these dark and stormy days -between the dark clouds- are brave women who inspire me. Maybe if you knew them, they might give you hope too.
Take Annabel Sheinberg -long-time Director of Planned Parenthood of Utah. She was prepared for the possibility of the law change coming. She was prepared to file immediately against this new ruling and won a temporary injunction because this now means there is no exception for rape or incest. Think hard about that, men – no exception after the creep who raped your daughter has made her pregnant. Or he raped your wife or mother or cousin or the woman behind the coffee counter who remembers your name and how you like your brew. A safe, legal abortion will not be allowed for any of them.
Cassidy Hutchinson- she is twenty-six now, but when she was working at the right hand… of the right hand… of the President of the United States? She was 24 years old, and she already had an impressive resume of working for other government agencies. This week, her testimony, her bravery of speaking truth to all the powers, has been incredible and shocking and totally believable in the Select Committee hearings of the insurrection Jan 6th 2020.
Salt Lake City’s Black Lives Matter former leader, Lex Scott, is a black woman who tried to have a conversation with then-top Park City officials in the summer of 2020. Lex was rebuked in her attempt to explain why the performative mural/art Main Street piece created by non-black artists in a pretty much all-white town was perhaps well-intended but not remotely well-executed. Her courageous confrontations with SLC police to make certain black people were treated fairly and equally in general but especially around the arrest process, resulted in her receiving serious hate mail and so many personal threats of harm, she and her family were forced to move out of our state. She just recently posted she has a great job- is being well paid -and her husband and child are happy. Lex fought and fought until the threats against her life and the life of her family were just too much. She left this state and relocated to Georgia where she is doing important work and starting a church. She says people of color there are treated like… people.
Liz Cheney – is possibly going to lose her congressional seat in Wyoming. And/or maybe run for president. Her father was basically a war criminal, and she knows that on a cellular level. She has stood up in face of terrorism at home and abroad. She has tried with all her might to make the Republican party stand for the solid values that my grandparents thought holy. And she is vice-chair on the United States House Select Committee investigating the insurrection of Jan 6th. We are all better off that this Cheney is made of that tough Wyoming grit . Think of her as a frontier-style rodeo judge overseeing an arena of ego bronco busting Proud Boys- her finger is on the bell.
Margaret Olson – Our Summit County Attorney is another one of these Superwomen. She stood up to the Park City school district to expose their ignoring/mishandling of the cases of sexual abuse of our students inside the district. And she forced the Utah Legislature to overturn their initial ruling on Hideout becoming a separate city- because she laid out the case against them and exposed the late-night secret change of policy when The Leg was ending the session. Members of the state legislature were dishonest at least -corrupt at worst. And then, most recently, she brought charges against one of the toughest high-profile attorneys in Summit County for his alleged rape …of incest.
Brave- was a 40-something high-profile friend who called me Friday night when the Roe v. Wade decision came down. She has a husband ( he was away) and an adult son and daughter -also not at home at the time. We spent hours on the phone unpacking our mutual shock and dismay and anger. There were shared tears and wine over the phone line. And by the end of our hours-long call, we realized we will do what we do- roll up our sleeves and surround ourselves with other strong women (and women growing strong ) and kick all the asses that try to control our autonomy over our own bodies/lives.
And that overturned ruling could also be a gateway to overturning other decisions, like the gay marriage of our military decorated or Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. Or re-consider that of interracial marriages like Kamala Harris, the vice president of the United States and even the marriage of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
So, in addition to basic health care -for the women in my life -I am concerned about the implications of the ruling possibly affecting gay couples- I have one in my family so far, my granddaughter’s relationship. Black/white couples? I have no idea who my 18-year-old young grand men from two different families might be dating. Nor do I care.
Unless….unless their right to love who they love becomes a legal issue. Again.
You know what happens when good people do nothing? The terrorists win- even domestic ones who don’t actually hold personal freedoms dear. A raspy-voiced Janis Joplin sang –Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose- it was the refrain we sang in the 70s, but we have so much to lose right again, now, multiple freedoms. Actually, we have everything to lose. When we are not free to choose who we love and how to have autonomy over our bodies … well, Katie ( don’t bother to) bar the door… ‘cause we’re gonna knock it down. This loss of civil humanity will not /cannot go unanswered.
Expect us to FIGHT. Every damn day now -every day. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday Friday, Saturday, and with extra vigor on all Sundays in and out of all the Parks…
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