The City of Lebanon, Ohio is celebrating Pro-Life Day on Wednesday to commemorate the one-year anniversary of its decision to protect unborn babies by banning abortions.
Last May, Lebanon became the first city in Ohio to pass a Sanctuary City for the Unborn ordinance, which outlaws abortions within city limits. To date, 50 cities across the U.S. have passed similar ordinances.
To celebrate the anniversary, the city council voted Tuesday to pass a resolution declaring May 25 to be “Pro-Life Day” in Lebanon, WHIO reports.
“If you believe that life is important, you have to take steps to protect it,” Mayor Mark Messer told WCPO News 8. “This is just a way that we can come back to this every year.”
City leaders also hosted a diaper drive to help mothers and babies in their community. Vice Mayor Adam Mathews said the diapers will be donated to Elizabeth’s New Life Center, which helped save more than 2,000 unborn babies from abortion last year.
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“We are so grateful that so many joined us in celebrating Pro-Life Day by bringing multiple cars full of diapers and wipes for our baby drive,” Mathews said.
This week, Mark Lee Dickson, director with Right To Life of East Texas and founder of the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn initiative, praised Lebanon leaders for their actions to help mothers and babies.
“The City of Lebanon, Ohio is holding a city-wide diaper drive on Wednesday in honor of their one-year anniversary of outlawing abortion. This is what a pro-life community looks like!” Dickson wrote on Twitter.
The Sanctuary City for the Unborn ordinance makes it “unlawful for any person to procure or perform an abortion of any type and at any stage of pregnancy” within city limits. It also prohibits “any person to knowingly aid or abet an abortion” and treats abortion-inducing drugs as contraband.
Lebanon does not have an abortion facility, but the ordinance will prevent one from opening there. It also will combat the rise of mail-order abortion drugs, which the Biden administration began allowing last year.
Meanwhile, abortion activists held a protest in the city Tuesday to oppose the ordinance. WHIO reports Leslie Nahigyan, a nurse who helped organize the protest, said the pro-life legislation is causing confusion for Lebanon women seeking abortions.
“The piece of legislation leads to confusion,” Nahigyan said. “When folks don’t know what their options are, they may choose things that aren’t safe, or they may proceed with a pregnancy that they’re not prepared for.”
The ACLU of Ohio also filed a lawsuit challenging the ordinance in court. However, it remains in effect.
Though abortion activists have threatened legal action, the cities have been successful in court thus far.
In 2021, voters in Lubbock, Texas overwhelmingly approved a Sanctuary City for the Unborn ordinance on the ballot, and Planned Parenthood was forced to stop aborting unborn babies there. The abortion chain challenged the ordinance, but a judge threw out its lawsuit later that year. Then, in January, Planned Parenthood decided to drop its lawsuit completely in a major victory for life.
In 2020, the American Civil Liberties Union dropped another lawsuit challenging several Texas cities’ pro-life ordinances.
A growing grassroots movement is working to protect unborn babies at the local level. In the past several years, other cities and counties have passed pro-life resolutions, which are statements of support but not enforceable law, that recognize unborn babies’ right to life. In Arkansas, at least 19 counties and 10 cities and towns have passed pro-life resolutions, according to Family Council of Arkansas. Several North Carolina counties passed pro-life resolutions recently, too.