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Pro-Life Sanctuary Resolution On Santa Rosa Ballot

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On Tuesday, Santa Rosa County voters will decide to make the county Florida’s first “Sanctuary for Life.”

The nonbinding referendum would be purely symbolic as abortion is legal in Florida up to 24 weeks into pregnancy unless life-threatening conditions are present. 

On the ballot, voters will choose "yes" or "no" on a nonbinding referendum that asks, "Shall the citizens of Santa Rosa County declare that Santa Rosa County is a Sanctuary for Life?"

The issue came to the Santa Rosa County Board of Commissioners in February. Authors of the sanctuary resolution include Milton resident Sam Mullins and District 3 County Commissioner candidate James Calkins, who is running unopposed. Mullins is an admin on a Facebook group dedicated to urging voters to pass the resolution. 

Santa Rosa County Democrats made an official statement in February opposing the resolution saying it "clearly crosses the line in the separation of church and state."

Read the resolution here.

Commissioners voted to leave the issue up to the voters after a couple of intense meetings where advocates on both sides of the issue spoke. At the Feb. 10 meeting, Commissioners Don Salter and Lane Lynchard expressed concerns about the resolution. 

Salter, who called himself a pro-life Republican, said he thinks a woman who is a victim of rape or incest should decide if she wants to keep the baby. Lynchard, who said his views on abortion are guided by faith, expressed concerns about the language.

“I don’t want to condemn that 15-year-old who was raped and impregnated and chooses to have an abortion ... that’s a statement the board shouldn’t make,” he said. Salter echoed the same sentiments.

Santa Rosa County does not have an abortion clinic — the closest one is in Pensacola. The resolution is more so about the county taking an anti-abortion stance. 

The resolution states the “Board of County Commissioners of Santa Rosa County, Florida, desires to express its deep concern that all human life, beginning from life inside the womb, through every stage of development, up and until a natural death, in Santa Rosa County should be afforded protection by their government, including local government, from acts of cruelty, and should be treated humanely and with dignity.” 

Earlier this year, Pearl, Miss., and Ellis County, Texas, passed pro-life-sanctuary resolutions.  In July, the Florida Senate passed a parental consent abortion bill that requires minors to receive consent from a parent or guardian before having an abortion. Last year, state Rep. Mike Hill filed a heartbeat bill, which bans abortions if a fetal heartbeat is detected, without any medical exceptions.

For a full list of ballot initiatives, votesantarosa.com.

Jennie joined WUWF in 2018 as digital content producer and reporter.