Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.
On Monday night, the newly-elected City Council of Mason, Ohio (population 34,792), repealed the city’s ordinance outlawing abortion in a 6-1 vote. The decision to undo the previous council’s ordinance came after Mike Gilb and T.J. Honerlaw, who had voted in favor of the ordinance, lost their bids for re-election. Ashley Chance, who had voted against the ordinance, won his re-election, while Barbara Berry Spaeth and Mark Haake, who had campaigned against the passage of the ordinance, were elected to the Council.
The reasons the new council had for repealing the ordinance were varied. Councilman Ashley Chance accused the passage of the ordinance as “a political move during an election” and called the ordinance an example of “complete government overreach” while Councilman Josh Styrcula simply called the ordinance “bad legislation.” Newly-elected Councilman Mark Haake agreed with Styrcula, and raised concerns about potentially negative effects that could result from an ordinance outlawing abortion.
Newly-positioned Vice Mayor Diana Nelson argued the ordinance violated federal law and the Constitution of the United States — which were the same points she raised in opposing the ordinance before. When the Mason Ordinance Outlawing Abortion was originally passed, Nelson argued, “When local leaders begin enacting laws which are in violation of our resident’s constitutional rights we have a much larger problem.”
Councilman Tony Bradburn, who had originally voted in favor of the ordinance outlawing abortion, cast his vote for the ordinance’s repeal.
According to newly elected Mayor Barbara Berry Spaeth, the Mason Ordinance was “terribly written” and was going to “cause possible litigation.” The ACLU of Ohio appeared to see the Ohio ordinances outlawing abortion differently, however, calling the ordinances “cleverly written” and “very hard to challenge.”
The repeal of the Mason Ordinance Outlawing Abortion was a great loss to Mason’s pro-life community. “I was especially disappointed in Tony Bradburn, who ran as a pro-lfie conservative,” said Lori Viars of Warren County Right To Life. “Only Kathy Grossmann had the courage to stand up for unborn babies.” Former Mayor Kathy Grossmann was the only council member who voted against the ordinance being repealed, arguing that the ordinance on the books was a deterrent to abortions being committed within the city limits of Mason.
Currently 43 cities throughout the United States have passed ordinances outlawing abortion within their city limits and every city which did face a lawsuit has survived its legal challenge with the ordinances outlawing abortion still intact. In February of 2020, seven cities in East Texas who had passed the ordinance were sued by the ACLU of Texas and, after three months, the ACLU of Texas withdrew its lawsuit. The lawsuit did not cost the cities or the taxpayers one cent and abortion remains outlawed in every city which was sued.
Mayor Shannon Thomason of the city of Big Spring (pop. 28,862) located in West Texas shared, “We passed our ordinance in January of 2020 and have yet to see a lawsuit. The only city in West Texas which has outlawed abortion and faced a lawsuit is the City of Lubbock – and that is because they had an abortion clinic.”
On May 17, 2021 Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas and the ACLU of Texas filed a lawsuit against the City of Lubbock for outlawing abortion within city limits. The lawsuit was filed before the Honorable Judge James Wesley Hendrix of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas. On June 1, 2021, Judge Hendrix ruled in Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas Surgical Health Services, et al. v. City of Lubbock, Texas with a 50-page ruling dismissing Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit for a lack of jurisdiction.
Since June 1, when the ordinance went into effect, Planned Parenthood in Lubbock has not committed any abortions and its facility in Lubbock no longer has a license to commit abortions. Planned Parenthood cites the Lubbock Ordinance as the reason they are no longer offering abortions at the Lubbock location.
Besides Mason, the only other city to have repealed its ordinance outlawing abortion was the City of Omaha, Texas (pop. 1,021), which repealed its ordinance in October of 2019 over fear of being sued by the ACLU.
While many in Mason believe T.J. Honerlaw’s support for the ordinance cost him his re-election, Honerlaw does not regret his support for the ordinance. “I have zero regrets sponsoring and passing the ordinance to make Mason a sanctuary city for the unborn. If I had to do it all over again, I would. I was beyond disappointed to see the new council and their new majority overturn it.” Honerlaw continued, “This fight is far from over as we are currently considering what steps we need to be sure Biden’s commitment to abortion access in every zip code does not become a reality in Mason, Ohio.”
While Monday was a loss for the pro-life community with the City Council of Mason repealing its ordinance, the City Council of Slaton, Texas (pop. 6,235) passed its ordinance outlawing abortion on a second and final reading — officially becoming the 43rd city in the United States to pass an ordinance outlawing abortion. More cities are expected to outlaw abortion in the near future with residents throughout Texas, Nebraska, and Ohio seeking to do their part to see a pro-life America — even if it is by one city at a time.
Mark Lee Dickson is a Director with Right to Life of East Texas, a Pastor of SovereignLOVE Church in Longview, Texas, and the founder of the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn initiative.
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