A movement to protect unborn babies from abortions at the city level is spreading across the country.
On Tuesday, the City Council of Lebanon, Ohio became the first in the state and the 29th in the nation to pass an enforceable ordinance outlawing abortion within its city limits.
The Cincinnati Enquirer reports the Sanctuary for the Unborn ordinance passed unanimously late Tuesday night and goes into effect immediately.
“We are clearly saying in our community we do not think it is in our best interest to open a clinic or a hospital that does abortions,” Mayor Amy Brewer said, according to the report. “We are elected to make decisions based on what’s good for our community today.”
The Sanctuary for the Unborn ordinance recognizes that unborn babies are valuable human beings who deserve to be protected under the law. It prohibits abortions within city limits and outlines legal consequences for abortionists who abort unborn babies. It does not penalize women who seek or have abortions, and it does not prohibit abortions when the mother’s life is at risk.
More than 100 people signed up to speak at the meeting, the majority of whom were in favor of the ordinance, WCPO News Cincinnati reports. Some brought flowers in remembrance of the babies who have been aborted and others carried signs that read, “Lebanon loves babies!” and “Save the babies.”
Local resident Renee Wisser told the city council that she supports protections for unborn babies.
“I think it’s an important thing for people to be aware that there are ways to protect the unborn and women still have their right to choose,” Wisser said, the local news reports. “This is a good thing for Lebanon, Ohio.”
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However, one city council member, Krista Wyatt, resigned in protest of the pro-life ordinance, according to local news reports.
Abortion activists also protested outside the meeting, chanting, “My body, my choice,” according to the local news. A video by Enquirer reporter Brook Endale appears to show abortion activists heckling a woman as she entered the building. Other local news reports showed police at the scene.
A Planned Parenthood spokesperson also spoke during the meeting, urging the city council to reject the ordinance and stop “playing politics with people’s lives and health.”
But Mark Lee Dickson, director with Right To Life of East Texas and founder of the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn initiative, said city leaders are taking action to protect lives.
“I am thankful that tonight the leadership of Lebanon, Ohio definitively said, ‘Not on our watch! Not in our city! Abortion is now outlawed in Lebanon, Ohio!’” Dickson wrote online after the meeting. “This is history in the making and a great victory for life! For those who said it couldn’t happen I would like to remind you of Ohio’s state motto, which reads, ‘With God All Things Are Possible.’”
Lebanon (population 20,000) does not have an abortion facility, but Mark Harrington, president of Created Equal and the director for the Ohio initiative, said cities like Lebanon are preparing for the future.
“Joe Biden has stated he wants abortion in every zip code in America,” Harrington said. “Hence, citizens across the country are preventing abortion from being committed in their communities. Ohio is once again taking the lead to protect children, and more cities are joining this movement every week!”
The Lebanon ordinance, like the other Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn ordinances, is enforceable. Unlike the ordinances in Texas, however, the Lebanon ordinance does not contain a private enforcement provision, only a public enforcement provision. Like the Nebraska ordinances, this public enforcement is not delayed by Roe v. Wade but is immediately enforceable.
Those who are found in violation of the ordinance are guilty of a misdemeanor in the first degree and, under Ohio law, are not to serve more than six months in jail or pay more than $1,000 in fines. The ordinance exempts the mother from penalty.
Todate, 28 other cities in Texas and Nebraska also have voted to ban abortions within city limits, and Dickson said more cities in Nebraska, Florida, Tennessee, Missouri and Arkansas have expressed interest in doing the same.