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Santa Rosa moves forward with abortion ban

Anti-abortion-rights advocates demonstrate in front of the Supreme Court early Monday.
J. Scott Applewhite
Anti-abortion-rights advocates demonstrate in front of the Supreme Court early Monday.

Santa Rosa County commissioners this morning moved forward with an ordinance to outlaw abortions and abortion clinics.

Apublic hearing will be advertised and scheduled, County Attorney Tom Danheiser said during the commission meeting at the county administrative complex in Milton. After the public hearing, commissioners could vote to pass the measure.

District 3 Commissioner James Calkins, who brought the ordinance to the five-member board, said the “All Lives Matter” ordinance would mean “a person shall not purposely perform or attempt to perform an abortion on a pregnant woman except to save the life of a pregnant woman in a medical emergency.”

The punishment for performing the abortion would be a second-degree misdemeanor. While Calkins said he wanted to make the punishment a felony, county ordinances are limited to misdemeanors.

Though Calkins’ ordinance was approved to proceed without objection, District 2 Commissioner Bob Cole, the board chairman, was hesitant to support it because it lacked protection for a forced pregnancy. He also was uncomfortable with passing the ordinance on such short notice.

If approved, the ordinance would only go into effect or be “triggered,” if the state Supreme Court rules the privacy clause in the state Constitution does not apply to abortions, and if the state Legislature changes state statutes to reflect that ruling and empower counties to regulate abortion, Danheiser explained.

District 1 Commissioner Sam Parker asked Danheiser what would benefit the county by passing the ordinance with legal issues still in question. The county attorney said it was solely the discretion of the board to pass it in anticipation of the state Supreme Court’s ruling.

Here is the proposed ordinance:

Tom Ninestine is the managing editor at WUWF. He began August 1, 2019. Tom is a native of Geneva, New York, and a 1983 graduate of King's College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, where he studied journalism and political science. During a 29-year career in newspapers he worked for the Finger Lakes Times in his hometown; The Daily Item in Sunbury, Pennsylvania; and the Pensacola News Journal from 1998-2016.