US city votes to make abortion punishable with six months in prison
The city has declared itself a "sanctuary city for the unborn."
A city in Ohio, USA, has voted unanimously to outlaw abortion.
The city council in Lebanon, Ohio, voted unanimously on Tuesday night to pass an ordinance outlawing abortion there, and declaring the city a "sanctuary city for the unborn." The practice will now be punishable with six months in jail and a $1,000 fine, according to the council.
CNN reports that the vote took place after four hours of public comment and debate. According to the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn initiative, Lebanon, which has a population of 20,000 according to the 2019 census, is the first city in Ohio to introduce such a law.
The city's mayor and vice-mayor have apparently not responded to requests from CNN for comment.
State law in Ohio currently bans abortion after 20 weeks, a law that has been in place since 2016. In 2019 a bill was signed that would have banned abortion after just six weeks, but this was later blocked from taking effect by a judge.
The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) of Ohio have tweeted that they were prepared to mount a legal challenge if the law was passed. They have since said that they were reviewing their next steps, and have described the law as a "hyper-local strategy" designed by "anti-choice politicians to stigmatize and ban abortion in Ohio, by whatever means necessary."
BREAKING: Tonight Lebanon City Council will hold a vote on a dangerous city ordinance that would ban abortion & make it illegal to aid someone in obtaining the procedure by declaring the city a ‘sanctuary for the unborn.’ We are prepared to mount a legal challenge. #SeeYouInCourt pic.twitter.com/MQkFnt5g6P
— ACLU of Ohio (@acluohio) May 25, 2021
Unanimously the Lebanon City Council just voted in support of this unconstitutional ordinance. ❌
This hyper-local strategy is another attempt by anti-choice politicians to stigmatize and ban abortion in Ohio, by whatever means necessary.
We’re reviewing next steps. https://t.co/eCgAYhBHnP
— ACLU of Ohio (@acluohio) May 26, 2021
A legal director for ACLU of Ohio said in an interview that the ordinance is "dangerous, blatantly unconstitutional, super confusing and cruel."
Meanwhile Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio tweeted out a statement on Tuesday opposing the law, and pointing out that access to abortion is still legal in the state of Ohio.
"Abortion services are already extremely difficult to access for people in Ohio, but these efforts are part of an aggressive, nationwide anti-abortion agenda to do one thing -- ban abortion outright," said Kersha Deibel, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio.
"We will do everything we can to continue to provide safe, legal abortion to the people of Ohio who need it."
What's happening in #LebanonOhio is unconstitutional and we won't stand for it. Access to abortion is still legal in the state of Ohio. The Lebanon council's ordinance is an attempt to undermine that right. Read part of our statement here. https://t.co/V79oiBQPwO pic.twitter.com/gs9YVxyB86
— Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region (@PPSWO) May 25, 2021