Proposed abortion ban ends in San Clemente after heated city council meeting

A proposal to declare San Clemente an abortion-free city has died after an emotional meeting where dozens of residents spoke on both sides of the issue.

City Council Voted 3 to 1 Saturday To withdraw the motion from the agenda of the ensuing meeting.

Despite San Clemente’s reputation as a conservative stronghold, the proposal has fallen mostly flat.

In heavily Democratic California, where abortion rights would continue to be defended by state officials following the US Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, the resolution’s effect would have been largely symbolic.

Many residents, including some opposed to abortion, have argued that the issue is outside the city limits and that authorities should address local concerns such as homelessness.

There are no hospitals or clinics that perform abortions in the coastal Orange County city, and it has no power to prevent residents from seeking the procedure elsewhere.

City Councilor Steve Noblock wrote the proposal, One who declared San Clemente a “sanctuary for life” said that life begins at conception and opposed the establishment of clinics providing abortions.

He was the only vote in favor of putting it on the agenda on Saturday.

Hundreds of people filled seats inside the San Clemente Community Center, including an overflowing room with a live feed. Abortion rights advocates chanted outside.

Inside, too, the dominant emotion was anger, with some residents calling the proposal “overreach,” “silly” or . relaxed me “Extremist.”

“Can the city tell pharmacies what drugs they can sell?” Barbara Helton, who has lived in San Clemente for 25 years.

During the nearly three-hour meeting, he blamed the authorities for “dividing this community along religious and political beliefs”.

“Not your right! Not your right!” shouted some in the audience at one point.

To loud applause, Mayor Pro Tem Chris Duncan called the proposal an attempt to “subjugate women and girls like my daughters into second-class citizens”.

NoBlock counters that abortion is “a public policy issue that is now at the forefront of society.”

He said the “bug cans” have been opened by the governor and state legislature’s efforts to strengthen abortion rights.

“The city weighs in on the issues affecting our communities,” he said. “Children’s lives and deaths affect our communities.”

Councilwoman Kathy Ward, who had previously called Noblock’s proposal “ridiculous”, pressured her colleagues to “get back to the business of San Clemente”.

Councilor Laura Ferguson, who is absent, has said authorities need to address urgent matters such as homelessness and pension liabilities.

Responding to complaints about short notice for Saturday’s meeting, Mayor Jean James said many residents had urged that the issue be addressed “early”.

James said council members have received threats related to the motion, which they have sent to law enforcement.

James, who opposes abortion, has said that he was initially in favor of a council resolution expressing support to reverse Roe v. Wade. But he was “shocked” and “embarrassed,” he said, after reading the specifics that Knoblock had drafted.

Duncan is a Democrat, and the other council members are Republicans.

Some residents praised NoBlock for its courage to stand up to abortion.

“This issue protects the voices of unborn children,” said Ann-Marie Hines, who has lived in San Clemente for 22 years.

As he left the meeting after the vote to introduce the motion, some called NoBlock a hero who stood for “business as usual”.

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