Local Leaders Respond to Proposed ‘Sanctuary of Life’ Resolution
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By C. Jayden Smith
Sensing a moment of opportunity for San Clemente to influence California politics following the U.S. Supreme Court’s June reversal of Roe v. Wade, City Councilman Steve Knoblock suggested the city take a stand on abortion.
Following his motion asking council to discuss affirming a position in a resolution, backed by Mayor Gene James, what began with concerned citizens sharing in the development sparked a firestorm of opposition on the social networks to the very nature of the idea.
“San Clemente” was a trending topic on Twitter on Wednesday, after the Los Angeles Times brought the resolution back to the nation.
Due to the widespread reaction to the resolution, the San Clemente City Council has already called a special meeting for 11 a.m. on Saturday, August 6 to consider whether to remove discussion of the resolution from the agenda of the regular meeting on August 16.
Citing a desire to express that “all human life, beginning with life in the womb,” in the city should be protected from “acts of cruelty,” Knoblock amended a resolution he found online that would state San Clemente as a “sanctuary for Life.”
Knoblock said in an interview with the San Clemente Hours that since the June 24 ruling returned authority to the states, he thinks the government and city council should discuss publishing a position as a way to consider public policy. Knoblock added that such conversations were normal for the council.
“We weigh in on public policy issues all the time,” he said. “It’s just when people don’t like a particular policy, then all of a sudden it’s not appropriate to weigh in on it. We do this all the time for all kinds of problems; often they are not as important as life or death issues like this.
Through separate interviews with San Clemente Times, Pro Tem Mayor Chris Duncan and Council Member Laura Ferguson said the events of the past few weeks have distracted the council from the day-to-day issues to which each member was elected.
“I would like to see us get back to improving the lives of our residents, helping local businesses, making sure the city runs efficiently, finances are managed responsibly, and our citizens can enjoy beaches and parks.” , said Duncan. “I think we should focus on that and not get involved in abortion issues.”
Ferguson said that if the content of a resolution is binding, board members, with the support of at least one colleague, can define any agenda item they wish to discuss. She added that as a strong supporter of the right to speak freely about the First Amendment, she appreciated Knoblock’s efforts to discuss an issue he was passionate about.
As she and Knoblock attended the Friday morning Coffee Chat on August 5, a forum for citizens to speak publicly and interact with each other, Ferguson was proud of Knoblock for speaking at the meeting and answering questions. .
However, even if the resolution were to pass, it would not affect the legality of abortion in the state of California or local zoning laws that permit abortion and pregnancy clinics, she pointed out. .
“(The resolution) does not supersede what is currently on the books and codified in state law,” Ferguson said. “And a city, by all means, could try to change local zoning laws, but they’ll be challenged in court and probably won’t be able to stand up to that.”
She added that she did not believe the council had the power to make decisions on such a matter.
James seconded the motion at the July 19 meeting to discuss the resolution, however, as the mayor told the Los Angeles Times, after reading Knoblock’s draft, he was “appalled” and “embarrassed”. He even contacted the city manager, city clerk and city attorney to see if he could withdraw his second.
James told the Los Angeles Times he initially thought the proposed resolution would simply be to support the Supreme Court’s decision on Roe v. Wade, but what he read later in the draft resolution “could have been written by a Taliban court.”
It is the second controversial “sanctuary city” resolution presented to city council in just over a year. In June 2021, the city council declared San Clemente a “Second Amendment Freedom City.” The resolution, originally proposed by James, passed by a 3-2 margin to provide a symbolic reinforcement of the constitutional right to bear arms.
Speaking on the broader issue of reproductive freedom, Duncan said he believes women should have the right to choose, “period.”
“Government should not be involved in this choice, and any attempt to limit these freedoms, by local government in particular, is an excess of government power,” he said.
Duncan, who recently attended a “Protect Our Planned Parenthood” fundraising event at Sherman Gardens in Corona del Mar, said he supports Planned Parenthood and is endorsed by the organization, as he was looking for the 74e Headquarters of the Assembly District.
He detailed that Planned Parenthood is an “essential part” of the US healthcare system that does not just provide for women, and that reproductive services are only a small percentage of what the entire organization provides. Duncan also said he had concerns about the wording of the draft resolution that called for Planned Parenthood.
Nichole Ramirez and Andrea Schmidt, senior vice president of communications and donor relations and public affairs project manager for Planned Parenthood Orange and San Bernadino Counties, respectively, spoke with the SC time Friday morning.
Schmidt said their reaction was the same as that of other community members in that they were shocked that the council was considering addressing an issue beyond its purview and appalled by the language of the resolution.
She added that if the resolution passes, it would send a message to the people of San Clemente that their local elected officials do not support their “basic rights to control their own bodies and to access quality health care,” by more of the Supreme Court’s position.
“I would just add that we know that thousands of community members in and around San Clemente rely on Planned Parenthood for health care services and education,” Ramirez said, as a Planned Parenthood clinic is located. at Mission Viejo. “So we know (the resolution) doesn’t accurately reflect their views.”
Ramirez said the organization’s facilities provide an “exceptional experience” with fast wait times and service, as well as high-quality care that no one is turned away from.
“(People) don’t realize the variety and depth of what we provide, including primary health care services, online behavioral health; we also have WICS services for women, infants and children,” she said. “Planned Parenthood is really a safety net provider for many, many people.”
For example, after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Ramirez recounted an influx of patients who needed abortion care but couldn’t access it in their own state. PPOSBC’s efforts to let people know that their clinics were still providing abortion services and to expand the services themselves were “crucially important,” she said.
They hope council won’t pass the ‘politically motivated’ resolution which isn’t designed to protect anyone’s health or life, Schmidt said, especially given the outpouring of opposition shared by residents with PPOSBC. and the council itself.
“With hopefully the cancellation of this resolution, it will also signal to other city councils that this is not the will of the people and something pushed by an extreme politician with his own personal views should not be sent at all,” Schmidt said.
Knoblock said the comments it received via email include views supporting and opposing the resolution.
“Those who are ‘Con’ are, usually, very vitriolic and caustic,” he said. “The ‘Pros’, supporting (the) resolution, are generally polite and calm.”
Duncan said the vast majority of what he’s seen in emails and on social media is in opposition, which he says reflects the views of the surrounding community and the country as a whole.
He cited how Kansas’ effort to deny the right to abortion in the state constitution was “completely defeated” and showed the will of people who believe women should have the right to choose their health care decisions and that the government should not be involved.
At press time, San Clemente Mayor Gene James and Council Member Kathy Ward could not be reached for comment by the San Clemente Hours.
There will be a special meeting of council at 11:00 am on Saturday August 6th to determine whether to remove the discussion of the resolution from the agenda of the regular meeting on August 16th.
Additionally, Duncan has partnered with PPOSBC’s Community Action Fund to organize a rally for women’s rights and access to reproductive health care that will take place at the San Clemente Pier on Wednesday, August 10 at 11 a.m. . Visit bit.ly/OCRoeRally to learn more.
C. Jayden Smith
C. Jayden Smith graduated from Dana Hills High in 2018 before pursuing a bachelor’s degree in digital and broadcast journalism at the University of North Texas. After graduating in December 2020, he reported for the Salina Journal in Salina, Kansas. Jayden loves college football and bothers his black lab named Shadow.
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