Ohio City Passes Ordinance Banning Abortions, Becomes “Sanctuary City” for Unborn Babies

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Sep 20, 2022   |   11:27AM   |   Lebanon, Ohio

The City of Lebanon, Ohio passed a new pro-life ordinance Monday that bans the killing of unborn babies in abortions within city limits but removes other restrictions regarding those who help with abortions.

Last year, the Lebanon City Council became the first in Ohio to approve a Sanctuary City for the Unborn ordinance and recognize unborn babies’ right to life. More than 50 other cities across the U.S. have passed similar ordinances.

On Monday, the council repealed and replaced the measure with a new abortion ban that city leaders said reflects the U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wadethe Dayton Daily News reports.

Vice Mayor Adam Mathews explained that the new pro-life ordinance is basically “the same policy as before,” but it clarifies that pregnant mothers in Lebanon cannot be punished for traveling to other locations to abort their unborn babies, according to the report. The new ordinance also removes language that penalized individuals and groups for helping women abort their unborn babies or telling women how to do at-home abortions, Local 12 reports.

Lori Viars, of Warren County Right to Life, said she is thankful that the city continues to stand for life.

“It’s not better or worse. It’s a wonderful thing that we’ve passed this and we’ve had it for a year and it’s great to protect unborn children,” Viars said, according to Local 12.

Here’s more from the Dayton Daily News:

Council replaced the previous ordinance to include a required new legal framework to include a “rational basis” in local laws. This allowed the ordinance to be in compliance with the Dobbs ruling.

The new ordinance removed previous provisions that criminalized providing money or assistance to anyone seeking an abortion even if the abortion took place outside of the city limits. The prior ordinance also banned providing advice and information to advice to women on how to perform home abortions.

Earlier this year, city leaders celebrated the one-year anniversary of the ordinance by hosting a diaper drive for mothers and babies in their community. Mathews said they donated the diapers to Elizabeth’s New Life Center, which helped save more than 2,000 unborn babies from abortion last year.

“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 at the time.

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. Previously, it also prohibited anyone from “knowingly aid[ing] or abet[ting] an abortion.”

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.

TAKE ACTION: Contact Lebanon city council officials to thank them for passing the measure.

The ordinance passed before Ohio began enforcing its heartbeat law, which bans abortions once an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable, about six weeks of pregnancy.

Since June, when the Supreme Court overturned Roe in the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, Ohio and more than a dozen other states have acted to protect unborn babies by enforcing laws that ban or strictly limit abortions. However, pro-abortion groups are challenging many of the laws in court, and a judge recently blocked Ohio from enforcing its pro-life law.

More than 50 cities in Texas, Nebraska, Ohio, Louisiana and Iowa have passed Sanctuary City for the Unborn ordinances. And Mark Lee Dickson, director with Right To Life of East Texas and founder of the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn initiative, said several more cities will have pro-life ordinances on their ballots in November for voters’ approval.

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 yearThen, 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 20 counties and 13 cities and towns have passed pro-life resolutions, according to Family Council of Arkansas. Several North Carolina counties passed pro-life resolutions recently, too.

TAKE ACTION: Contact Lebanon city council officials to thank them for passing the measure.