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A Tale of Two Cities Considering Abortion Bans

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.

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6:14PM PDT on Oct 24, 2013

Regardless of the original intent, and regardless of whether people abuse the system at all, at this time it certainly promotes creating more & more children into poverty while basically ignoring others in real need.

Creating a child is an active decision. Disability, layoff, and sudden poverty (from disaster, death or huge medical bills) are not. Unlike a pregnancy, people cannot opt out of or delay these latter situations.

Yet for some reason, people in the former situation always get priority and immediate help, while sick and disabled adults die waiting for benefits.

6:55AM PDT on Oct 24, 2013

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.

7:10PM PDT on Oct 23, 2013


2:09PM PDT on Oct 23, 2013

Robert H.
True that every benefit program will be scammed/gamed by some people. That is not a reason skew the whole system so much in favor of creating new people while neglecting existing people in need.

-When benefits are CONTINGENT upon breeding, people have no choice but to breed just to get the benefits, even if they otherwise wouldn’t have chosen to. Meanwhile needy people who can’t or won’t breed are left out in the cold.

-Benefits specifically exclude contraception and abortion, thereby enabling/forcing the birth of many UNWANTED/UNINTENDED children who otherwise wouldn’t have been born.

Thus, the system is geared towards creating more children into poverty, rather than helping people already in need. In this situation, the problem is not with the scammers, but the system itself.

9:43AM PDT on Oct 23, 2013

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.

11:44PM PDT on Oct 22, 2013

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.

9:07PM PDT on Oct 22, 2013

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

9:05PM PDT on Oct 22, 2013

“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.

8:59PM PDT on Oct 22, 2013

I meant: You seem TO like the system as it is.

I'd love to continue to this conversation but have an early day tomorrow. Maybe we can pick up tomorrow?

Goodnight all!

8:55PM PDT on Oct 22, 2013

"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."

No the second part is wrong. I never said you wish to give handouts for everything. You seem like the system as it is, which only provides benefits to those who breed, while ignoring the truly needy. And you wholeheartedly defend people's right to breed, regardless of the fate of children.

Thus, regardless of what you claim to be, you sound like a pro-birth religious nut to me.

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Great info, will have to try a few. thanks for sharing

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