Local group proposes that Athens become a sanctuary city

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On Monday, August 1, a local reproductive rights advocacy group, Athenians for Bodily Autonomy, or ABA, went to the Athens City Hall with a petition to make Athens a sanctuary city for reproductive rights.

ABA member Chelsea Langlois said the group started in her home shortly before the Dobbs v. Women’s Health Organization decision. Jackson overturned Roe v. Wade.

“When we all knew that Roe was going to go down, at least a month before (it happened), I think maybe 12 people showed up to the first meeting at my house where we wanted to organize a protest or start planning,” Langlois said. “We didn’t even have a name yet.”

Langlois said the ABA’s current mission is to classify the city of Athens as a sanctuary city. If Athens were to become a sanctuary city, the city would protect all aspects of abortion from prosecution, including helping someone get an abortion, sheltering someone seeking an abortion, or legally obtaining a self-managed abortion.

“I think advocating for reproductive rights also means advocating for people who haven’t had access to the best sex education in their life or people who live below the poverty line to have greater access to all of their options,” Langlois said.

Ari Faber, another ABA member, joined the group after Roe v. Wade was revoked.

“Someone mentioned that this (City Council) meeting was taking place, a friend and I attended, and that’s how I started getting involved with (ABA),” Faber said. “It’s really taken off and grown from there.”

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Faber said that he believed that the annulment of Roe v. Wade would not eliminate the need for abortions, but the access to safe abortions.

“The United States has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality,” Faber said. “In a country where that is the case, making access to abortion incredibly difficult… makes no logical sense. It will just lead to more deaths.”

ABA member Claressa Page said cities considering becoming sanctuary cities often pass ordinances to prevent city resources from being used to process abortion.

“One (ordinance) has just been approved in Colón; one is in the process of happening in Cleveland,” Page said. “It seems that several liberal cities are taking a toll.”

Athens Mayor Steve Patterson said he supports the ABA and thinks the group’s mission is wonderful.

“Myself, being the father of twin daughters…and a longtime supporter of Planned Parenthood…I support their efforts,” Patterson said. “I will continue to encourage the Council to make some progress.”

Athens City Council President Chris Knisely said the ABA has been in contact with Councilmember Sarah Grace, D-At Large, to craft a resolution similar to the one passed in Columbus to be introduced at a council meeting.

Grace did not respond to requests for comment from The charge.

Faber, Page and Langlois agreed that it is important to protect reproductive rights through civil action.

After addressing the City Council, Faber said the ABA is drafting a letter to Athens County Attorney Keller Blackburn and Athens County Sheriff Rodney Smith asking them to commit not to investigate abortion-related cases. . The group also hopes to hold more public events to further its cause.

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“I personally haven’t had an abortion or anything, but I want the choice to be on the table if I ever need one (and) be able to run my own life and make decisions that will drastically alter the path I’m on.” I’m leaving,” Langlois said.

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