know about Athenians for Bodily Autonomy calls on Council to make Athens a sanctuary city for reproductive health | Local news
More than 50 people attended Monday’s Athens City Council meeting seeking to make Athens a sanctuary city for reproductive health in the wake of the US Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
The Court ruled on June 24 that “The Constitution does not confer the right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled; and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives.”
Several people spoke during the citizens’ comment portion of the meeting. Some people came with signs protesting Dobbs’ decision.
A group called Athenians for Bodily Autonomy called on the council not to criminalize reproductive health decisions.
“As elected leaders in our community, we, the residents of Athens, ask you to pledge to refrain from using the limited resources of the criminal legal system to criminalize personal medical decisions,” said Ari Faber, the group’s spokesman.
Group asked the council to formally, and in writing, commit to Athens County residents to respect the reproductive health decision.
“He will refuse to use resources to criminalize reproductive health decisions,” Faber said. “The Athens legal system will refrain from prosecuting those who seek, provide and/or support abortions. You will uphold your ethical commitment to protect the well-being and safety of all members of our community. It will pass a resolution to deprioritize enforcement of abortion laws and decriminalize abortion.”
Faber said elected officials have a responsibility to citizens to use the city’s limited resources wisely.
“As elected officials, you have a responsibility to ensure that your limited resources, supported by Athens County residential taxpayers, are focused on efforts to prevent and address serious crime rather than enforcing abortion bans that divide our community. they create unsustainable choices for patients and health care providers and erode trust in the justice system,” Faber said.
Faber cited Athens City Code 9.06.20, Cannabis Laws and Penalties, which he said establishes precedent law in the city to reduce penalties, including fines and court costs, for minor marijuana-related offences.
Faber said the Columbus City Council recently unanimously passed an ordinance decriminalizing abortion.
Faber asked city officials to keep the best interests of citizens in mind.
“Keep in mind that to best promote public safety, prosecutors must be perceived by their communities as trustworthy, legitimate and fair,” Faber said. “These are values that would be undermined by the enforcement of laws that criminalize deeply personal decisions, harm those who need our help most, and force unnecessarily difficult and traumatic decisions on many in our community.”
After the council meeting, Faber said: “I think our voices were heard. I was approached by a council member who seems to want to address this issue. I am hopeful that they will adopt an ordinance similar to the one passed in Columbus.”
Faber shared his concerns about broaching the subject.
“As with any type of advocacy work, I have some security concerns, especially having to declare where I live to the city council,” said Faber, operations coordinator for United Campus Ministries Center, a nonprofit from social justice. “I am grateful that I have no professional worries and was there as an employee of the United Campus Ministry Center last night. I have the full support of my supervisor and the board. Personally, it has caused some problems with my family. They are very conservative and religious.”
Others spoke on the subject at the meeting, including Louise Stewart of The Plains.
“I shudder to imagine what criminalizing abortion will mean for my students, many of whom are racking up tens of thousands of dollars in debt to earn degrees in hopes of charting their own paths in life,” said Stewart, also a member of Atheninans for Bodily. Autonomy.
Stewart condemned the state legislator’s recent statements on the issue and the legislature’s moves to limit reproductive freedom. He asked the council and the community to be mindful of a post-Roe era.
“I would like us all to reflect on what it means to be a neighbor and a community in the post-Roe era,” he said. “Sit down with this question, imagining your loved ones in horrible situations where they might come to you for help. What is the ethical thing to do? I believe that neighbors do not allow neighbors to slip into the shadows of a police state by making their own health care decisions or by defending the rights of others to do so. In these frightening times, let us stick together, Athens.”
Stewart asked people to consider a woman’s personal autonomy when making such moral decisions.
“The last thing I will add if there is still time is an aside for those who might downplay the magnitude of motherhood and suggest that one might simply give one’s baby up for adoption: it would be unspeakably distressing for the rest of my life and would go against me. moral code to bring into the world a child that I cannot afford to raise,” Stewart said.
“As the human being whose body alone could turn the embryo into a fetus and could give birth to the potential baby made of my DNA, my moral compass should be the foremost honored authority on these deeply personal and painful matters,” Stewart continued. .