On Wednesday, August 10, the Village of Stapleton, Nebraska (pop. 305), became the 51st city in the nation and the third city in Nebraska to pass an enforceable ordinance outlawing abortion within its city limits. The Village of Stapleton follows the village of Hayes Center and the city of Blue Hill, which outlawed abortion in April of last year.
The vote on the measure was the result of a successful citizen initiative which was filed by Stapleton resident Wanda Osnes. In order for the ordinance to be brought before her Village Board, Osnes was required to obtain signatures from 15% of the registered voters from the Village of Stapleton.
While Osnes only needed 28 signatures, Osnes successfully collected 43 — the majority of which were found to be qualified voters of the Village of Stapleton. At the board meeting the Village Board discussed their options of either passing the ordinance or sending the ordinance to the November 8, 2022 ballot. In the end, the Village Board chose to waive all three readings and immediately pass the measure in a 3-1 vote.
Both Wanda Osnes and her husband, Brad, were thankful that the Village Board listened to their constituents and passed the ordinance. Wanda shared, “I have always believed that life begins at conception, that abortion is wrong, and I don’t want it in my community.”
The Stapleton Ordinance Outlawing Abortion states, “It shall be unlawful for any person to procure or perform an abortion of any type and at any stage of pregnancy in the Village of Stapleton, Nebraska” and “It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly aid or abet an abortion that occurs in the Village of Stapleton, Nebraska.”
Abortion is defined by the ordinance as “the act of using or prescribing an instrument, a drug, a medicine, or any other substance, device, or means with the intent to cause the death of an unborn child of a woman known to be pregnant.” The ordinance is clear that the term does not include birth control devices or oral contraceptives and that the act is not an abortion if the act is done with the intent to “save the life or preserve the health of an unborn child” or “remove a dead, unborn child whose death was caused by accidental miscarriage” or “remove an ectopic pregnancy.”
The Stapleton ordinance also declares abortion-inducing drugs to be contraband, stating, “It shall be unlawful for any person to possess or distribute abortion-inducing drugs in the village of Stapleton, Nebraska.” The ordinance defines “abortion-inducing drugs” as “mifepristone, misoprostol, and any drug or medication that is used to terminate the life of an unborn child.”
Anyone who is found in violation of the ordinance will be subject to a fine of $500. This fine is immediately enforceable and contains only one exception. “Under no circumstance may the penalty be imposed on the mother of the unborn child that has been aborted.”
Stapleton was not the only Nebraska municipality to consider an ordinance outlawing abortion last week. On Monday, August 8, the Village Board of Arnold in Custer County voted to send their ordinance to the November 8th ballot for voters of their community to decide. On Wednesday, August 10, the same night Stapleton outlawed abortion, the City Council of Curtis in Frontier County also voted to send their ordinance to voters November 8th. All three municipalities considered the ordinances as a result of successful citizen petition initiatives in their communities.
While citizens of Arnold and Curtis are disappointed their local government leaders did not immediately pass the ordinance outlawing abortion, they are thankful the ordinances will be heading to the ballot for voters to decide. Other cities which have ordinances outlawing abortion on their Novemeber ballots include the Texas cities of Abilene, Athens, Plainview, and San Angelo.
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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