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May 25, 2022

North County Community Responds to Roe v. Wade Draft Opinion

Anna Paganelli, now 54, was house-sitting for a friend at a cabin in Boulder Creek—where she also used to live—as she struggled with one of the most traumatic situations of her life. The umbilical cord of one of the twin girls growing inside her uterus had become compromised.

“That couldn’t have been a more wanted of a pregnancy,” she said, at a rally outside the county courthouse Tuesday after a Roe vs. Wade-smashing draft Supreme Court decision came to light. “We had to be ready for the possibility of me having an abortion.”

The event, promoted on social media by Third District Supervisor Ryan Coonerty, attracted several hundred people to the judicial steps to chant “Let the decision stand!”, wave placards—like one referencing Canadian author Margaret Atwood’s novel the “Handmaid’s Tale”—and listen an abortion provider invoke the old days of clandestine trips to Mexico.

But for Paganelli it was intensely personal. Suddenly she was brought back to those fraught days when she was 30 months pregnant, up in the San Lorenzo Valley, with a father of strident Catholic faith.

“‘Dad, if they have to choose between me and the babies, they have to choose me,’” she remembers telling him. “Even my anti-choice father … even he got it.”

Thankfully, the in-utero problem was resolved, and today she has two “14 and thriving” teens. But she’s never forgotten what it felt like in those tense moments, and why she believes abortion should be considered a right—and not just a choice—in the United States.

Jayme Ackemann, 45, of Ben Lomond was at the protest, too, contemplating a world that was—in some ways—suddenly closing in on her.

“I’m terrified,” said the mother of two girls, one 22 and one 18. “This is going to affect the places my daughters will think about living.”

Ackemann, a member of the Santa Cruz County Democratic Central Committee, said she felt compelled to vote with her feet and join other locals in opposing the direction of the country’s court, which headed in a more conservative direction after the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Donald Trump’s appointment of three justices.

“Safe access to abortion is critical to women’s health care,” she said. “The purpose of today’s event is to show up and be visible.”

Justin Cummings, who is running for Coonerty’s seat on the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors, said fighting for abortion access is about social justice for women.

“They should be the ones at the table making decisions about reproductive rights,” he said.

Drew Penner
Drew Penner is an award-winning Canadian journalist whose reporting has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Good Times Santa Cruz, Los Angeles Times, Scotts Valley Press Banner, San Diego Union-Tribune, KCRW and the Vancouver Sun. Please send your Los Gatos and Santa Cruz County news tips to [email protected]

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