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LWVCC Defends Democracy - Opposes Sanctuary City for the Unborn

Libbie Bramson  | Published on 9/29/2021
The Sanctuary City for the Unborn Ordinance was initiated in 2019 by a rural pastor who lobbied Waskom, Texas to pass a law banning all abortions within its city limits. Through September 8, 2021, 36 total cities have passed similar laws: 33 in Texas, two in Nebraska and one in Ohio.

Naples is a test case for this movement.  On March 15, 2021, Bill Oppenheimer, a local lawyer and founder of the anti-abortion organization Act for Life, proposed placing an anti-abortion ordinance on the Council agenda.  Council members rejected the motion by a vote of 4 to 3. In a WINK News interview on April 21, Oppenheimer vowed abortion supporters would demonstrate at every city Council meeting.  Across the summer, there have been demonstrations for and against the ordinance, as well as public comments at Council meetings.

Janet Hoffman, LWVCC Co-President, spoke at the Naples City Council meeting on September 15.  She stated, "The League supports the Rule of Law.  All persons and all governments are subject and accountable to the law.  A local government cannot enact a law that conflicts with a state law.  The Constitution of the State of Florida recognizes the right to privacy under Article 1, Section 12.  An important case was In re T.W. in 1989.  It concerned a pregnant high school student who wanted an abortion. The Florida Supreme Court ruled that a woman’s right to an abortion is protected under the U.S. Constitution.  The right of privacy in health choices is protected by current Florida law, even if there are changes at the Federal level."

"On a personal note, I am worried there are no exceptions for rape or incest.  This is hopefully not a trauma that anyone here has experienced, but imagine your daughter or granddaughter, who is 14 years old, getting raped.  An adolescent’s body is not fully developed and not ready for pregnancy or childbirth.  Teenage pregnancies often come with medical problems such as premature birth, preeclampsia, and depression.  Please consider the emotional and physical effects of a pregnancy from rape or incest."

"Governor DeSantis has expressed hesitation about Florida having a similar Texas-style bill.  He has misgivings about providing financial incentives for filing a lawsuit.  He said that he does not want to turn private citizens against each other.  Please do not agenda this divisive, contentious ordinance."

There were no demonstrations at the September 15 Council meeting.  Nor were there audience members who spoke for the Sanctuary Ordinance.  The LWVCC will closely monitor this issue.  It may become a “front burner” issue as the February, 2022 Naples Council election gets closer.  If just one vote changes, it can get on the agenda!