A Tale of Two Cities Considering Abortion Bans

The city of Bakersfield, Calif., has been debating abortion for a very, very long time. Now, finally, the issue has come to an end, as the city council agreed to a fact that the rest of the country has long known: a city ordinance is no way to try to ban abortion.

A “Human Life” ordinance was introduced in the spring, strongly supported in part by long time anti-abortion activists, “sidewalk counselors” and former Rescue movement participants Tim and Terri Palmquist. In its original form, the ordinance was supposed to make abortion illegal in the city of Bakersfield by declaring that life was protected from the moment of conception. The Palmquists, who have been an active presence outside of Family Planning Associates in Bakersfield, were vocal testifiers in favor of the ordinance.

The original ordinance stated that, “It shall be unlawful within the City of Bakersfield for any entity to receive any form of consideration for the purpose of killing any human being,” then allowed “any person aggrieved” to be able to file civil suit for damages.

The city council, however, eventually came to terms with two simple facts: a) it is unconstitutional to have a city specific abortion ban more strict than the state that the city is located in; and b) even if it were not, full bans on abortion itself is still unconstitutional, as well. The original ordinance was instead replaced with a feel good, legal free statement that abortion is not good and should not be allowed to ever exist.

Even that new language was venomously debated, with arguments over whether the city “respects and honors all viewpoints, religions, and creeds,” or only “recognizes” them, and whether the city “respects all human beings, including those who reside in the womb,” or not.

Fighting against respecting and honoring alternate viewpoints was Councilwoman Jacquie Sullivan. “This is all about respecting and honoring all human life. Not honoring all creeds and all viewpoints … We have Wicca, there are a lot of things around, and I will recognize them, but I won’t honor and respect them,” she said during a council meeting Tuesday night.

In the end, even the no-teeth, “respect life” version of a city ordinance failed to make it through the city council. In a 5-2 split, the council voted to table the matter all together, with a number of the members saying that although the oppose abortion, they believe the City attorney, who advised them that the city could be open to lawsuit if anything did pass.

The council of Bakersfield said that it had a “fiduciary responsibility” to the city to protect it from potentially having its funds sucked up in a meaningless lawsuit over unconstitutional bills. That’s advice that unfortunately was not followed in Albuquerque, N.M., where another group of Rescue movement acolytes have pushed for a 20 week abortion ban in their city, hoping to stop later abortions at a local clinic in town. The city council there did have the power to table the measure, despite the signatures gathered to put a ban on the ballot, but chose not to out of fear of either their own political futures or the threat of lawsuits from anti-abortion litigators who pressed them to allow the special election over the ban.

Although the attorney general has called the ban unenforceable, and the city will be sued over it, the 20 week ban will still be up to the voters on November 19.

If only Albuquerque’s city council has been as responsible as Bakersfield’s council was.

photo credit: http://www.thinkstockphotos.com/image/stock-photo-abortion-treatment/158677298/popup?al=158677298,105865248,154998713,152148544,139985899,137884389,137884893,122949259,119409354,100700864,94784920,94784919,101850934&sq=abortion/c=431,158,253,254,93,228,28,177,260,263,13,176,621,648,579,528,268,515,586,64,635,165,734,477,623,445,637,144,675,282,744,740,2,452,451,109,277,161,626,68,591,229,460,291,696,344,629,614,732,647,297/f=PHX/s=DynamicRank">Thinkstock

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Robert H.
Robert Hamm2 years ago

It costs way more to feed the kids than they get in government checks is my guess. MOST people on welfare are not invilved in this fashion. I am sure the law was nor enactred to create "breeders". In time it may be refined. But its far from being the bullk of people on assistance.

Ken W.
Ken W.2 years ago


Cathleen K.
Cathleen K.2 years ago

Limiting abortion to 20 weeks, which is what Albuquerque is proposing, is actually in line with what most Americans favor. Interestingly, it's also the law in the more liberal states in the country like NY and MA that legalized abortion BEFORE Roe v Wade. It's red states that legalized abortion after the SCOTUS ruling, like KS, where it's legal to terminate a pregnancy at any point, for any reason, without any kind of restrictions, because they tossed bare bones laws on the books in response to a mandate. Liberal America has laws that were subjected to the political process, so they're more reflective of popular opinion.

I'm adamantly pro choice, but I see no reason not to limit elective abortion to 20 weeks gestation. Absolutely make exceptions for the 12 year old who was raped and didn't tell anyone or the woman who just found out that the fetus has a horrible anomaly, but don't let people wait until they are four weeks from viability to get around to taking care of their problem. Reasonable, minor restrictions that effect almost no one is not a slippery slope towards outlawing abortion. Having the law reflect popular opinion strengthens abortion law, not weakens it.

Robert H.
Robert Hamm2 years ago

EVERY single system we have ever had to help the poor has been gamed by someone.

SOME of the poor game the system…..not all of them or even most of them. Most go in and out of the system. Its simply a political relaity that some are going to game whatever program is developed. Its a much smaller percentage than it was in the past.

No one LIKES the gamers……..but they are incredibly hard to control. THey didnt set up the rules they are simply adpating to them. The system isnt perfect. We all KNOW it isnt prefect. NO matter the system someone is going to game it. Exoon games it Monsanto games it tons of rich people game it.

Welcome to Ameirca. Our Tax dollars go to al kinds things we may individually hate. WE diodnt get to pick what ach of our dollars goes to. Some will go for things we agree with some won't. Thats how our system works and has worked for a very long time. Its called compromise. Its what grownup people do.

Rainbow W.
.2 years ago

Good night, Suba. I have an early day too and my wife is calling me.

Rainbow W.
.2 years ago

“You act as if everyone has the same access to everything, have the same IQ’s, education, opportunity, have the same appreciation of society and what is available.”

That’s where you are dead wrong. IQ, education, opportunity, and none of those other things have anything to do with it. It’s about awareness and compassion. If you need to be taught these basic things something is wrong with you. I have seen individuals mired in poverty, raised with the worst religious principles, in the middle of nowhere and they still got out; with no help and a low I.Q., no education. That’s a cop out.

Furthermore, should we aid and abet this behavior? Should we not try to stop people from using what they don’t need? I want to see those who need it get it, but they must do their part too and not just use these kids. You would get sickened too if you knew a child who got their genitals burned off by their parent and that same parent was out on bail and enjoying benefits from the child they abused. That’s what I want to stop.

Rainbow W.
.2 years ago

That’s right, you only like to make yourself feel better, to hell with the kid.

Rainbow W.
.2 years ago

“You claim I am fed by politicians but you couldn’t be more wrong.”

Really? Your lengthy treatise on everything from the NSA, drone strikes to the IRS, JFK, Truman to Vietnam says otherwise. You probably have a poster in your room that says ‘I believe’. Your words prove my claim. You have no original thoughts. You blindly mouth the words dems have put in your mouth.

“As for your position I hope you can satisfy yourself by denying and punishing as many people you believe are abusing the system as possible.”

And I hope you can satisfy yourself by stroking your ego and think you did such a good job helping those poor people. Let’s give them more benefits and let then drop more kids. Doesn’t matter if they rape the kid, or beat them. Let’s give the poor carte blanche. I bet every time you stand behind a mother at checkout buying beer for her and Twinkies with FS for her four kids you feel very pleased with yourself.

“Now there's a handy way to manage the poor. Sounds a bit like fascism.”

The way we’re doing it sure isn’t working. I guess we should just let them keep breeding and abusing the children. Actually what sounds fascist is giving the poor a free ride and not letting them take responsibility for their actions. When will children have the right not to be born into that state? What about the children’s rights? That’s right, you only like to make yourself feel better, to hell wit

Michael T.
Michael T.2 years ago

@Suba Says: Really? Then I repeat my question. Where are the solutions for the really needy people I mentioned before?

Why are you asking me? You have characterized me on the one hand as a right wing nut, and later as a liberal giving handouts for everything, yet you claim that large numbers of people are not being helped. Your position that gaming the system for benefits by having children is the one and only problem to all of this it rather pathetic.

@Suba Says: Why are the only "solutions" conditional on breeding, thus inaccessible to those unwilling to breed?

The only solutions? How does this hurt the veterans, the unemployed, the sick, and the aged?

@Suba Says: And why do you defend a "solution" that is contingent on creating more children into poverty?

I am actually defending against your preference to see it only in these terms. You act as if everyone has the same access to everything, have the same IQ’s, education, opportunity, have the same appreciation of society and what is available. You act as if it is a perfect world and this is the only thing that is wrong about how things are.

Michael T.
Michael T.2 years ago

@Suba says: "I guess you don’t see that the system creates solutions for people who are desperate."??? Desperate are the people who have been laid off through no fault of their own; are pounding the pavement every day looking for work & getting nowhere; and getting sick from stress in a system with no healthcare. Desperate are the people who cannot work due to health problems and are repeatedly denied disability benefits. Desperate are the veterans who have their body mangled, can't get a job and still don't get VA benefits. Where are the solutions for them? Why are the "solutions" conditional on breeding?

Interesting dots you are connecting here. Why are you asking me these questions? Why are you proselytizing as if quoting from some buy-bull? I am just as angry about the situation the unemployed face, the sick face, the aged face, the disabled veterans who face an unworkable VA. Why do you make me out as someone these issues need to be addressed? You imply I have said things that make me uncaring and you have labored to create that persona falsely. That’s your game. Play it as you will.