Voters in one Florida county will get to decide whether to take a stand against abortion in November after their county commissioners approved the creation of a pro-life ballot measure Thursday.
The Pensacola News Journal reports the Santa Rosa County commissioners voted unanimously to draft the ballot language, though they also could have approved a pro-life resolution themselves.
Earlier this week, the commissioners voted 4-1 to move forward with a pro-life resolution that would declare Santa Rosa County a sanctuary for unborn babies. The final vote was scheduled for Thursday; but after three hours of public comment, three commissioners decided against approving the resolution themselves, according to the local news. Instead, they voted to allow voters to make the final decision on the resolution in November.
The resolution, which is a statement of support but is not legally binding, states that life begins at conception, and unborn babies are valuable human beings who deserve to be protected. It also encourages the county to “arrange for the placement of a suitable commemorative plaque on the grounds of the county government declaring Santa Rosa County to be a ‘Sanctuary for Pre-born Children.’”
Commissioner Lane Lynchard initially voted to advance the resolution on Monday, but decided against approving it himself Thursday, saying “80 percent of the emails” he received were in opposition to the pro-life measure, according to the report.
Many local pro-life residents attended the meetings both Monday and Thursday to urge the commissioners to stand for life.
On Thursday, Jim Eastman, of Navarre, said he wants their county to be a voice for “the voiceless” unborn.
“I very much endorse the use of this resolution to show that Santa Rosa County stands for life,” Eastman said. “It is the civil rights movement of our time. … We are simply being part of, as has been shown and referenced earlier today, a correction of a past mistake that we have done in this country. It is a moral issue, not a religious issue.”
On Monday, Cindy Roberts, of Life Options Clinic, a pro-life pregnancy resource center in Milton, Florida, also spoke to the commissioners about supporting the resolution, WUWF News reports.
“My son and his wife were pregnant with their fourth child (who) was diagnosed with hygroma and Edwards’ syndrome,” Roberts told the commissioners. “Immediately, their doctor began to talk about early termination … but God is the author of life and death. My granddaughter turned 2 years old without issue. It wasn’t an improper diagnosis — God healed her in the womb.”
She said the pregnancy center is a sanctuary for women and babies in need, and she would love to see the whole of Santa Rosa County become a pro-life sanctuary, too. Life Options Clinic is a place “where women can come and receive the help and the hope that they are seeking,” she said.
However, some local residents said the county commissioners should not get involved in the abortion issue. Mike Duren, of Pace, told the commissioners to focus on local matters instead, according to the local news.
“My issue is not one here to defend or defeat abortion, it’s the fact that I don’t think the County Commission should take up the issue,” Duren said. “… I know y’all are burdened with levying taxes, collecting taxes and determining where taxes are best used for everybody. I know y’all have to deal with infrastructure, permitting and growth for the county.”
A growing number of towns and cities have passed ordinances and resolutions to protect the unborn. An ordinance is a municipal government law or regulation. A resolution is a statement of support or opposition, but it is not legally enforceable.
Within the past year, 12 Texas cities and towns passed pro-life ordinances to protect unborn babies from abortions. Just a few weeks ago, Big Spring in West Texas became the largest city in the country to pass an ordinance to prohibit abortions and protect unborn babies’ lives.
In 2019, Roswell, New Mexico city leaders also passed a pro-life resolution after state lawmakers considered a radical pro-abortion bill to expand late-term abortions. The bill narrowly failed to pass.
Also in 2019, the Riverton City Council in Utah passed a similar resolution, declaring the city a “sanctuary for the unborn.” The Utah County Commission unanimously voted in favor of a resolution supporting protections for unborn babies. The council in Highland, Utah and the city of Springdale, Arkansas also approved pro-life resolutions last summer.