Sebastian's Point

Sebastian's Point is a weekly column written by one of our members regarding timely events or analysis of relevant ideas, which impact the Culture of Life. All regular members are invited to submit a column for publication at soss.submissions@gmail.com. Columns should be between 800 to 1300 words and comply with the high standards expected in academic writing, including proper citations of authority or assertions referred to in your column. Please see, Submission Requirements for more details.

Blue Cities in Red States

Ana Brennan, J.D.

Vice President & Senior Editor

Society of St. Sebastian  |  28  July 2022

It has been just over a month since Roe v. Wade was overturned, an event met with much joy by the pro-life movement. Of course, anyone involved in the pro-life movement for any amount of time knew that rejoicing over the demise of Roe would quickly turn to focusing our efforts to legal battles in all fifty states. To prepare for this eventuality, a number of states laid the legal groundwork to protect the unborn by passing trigger bans, laws prohibiting abortion that would take effect upon Roe’s reversal. We knew even in states where abortion would be banned we would still have to remain vigilant against the machinations of the pro-abortion movement to undermine these pro-life protections. Telemedicine and efforts to subvert state laws by the Biden Administration being two obvious concerns. Maybe not as obvious were the recent actions of blue cities in red states.

 

Louisiana’s trigger ban was set to take effect immediately after Roe was overturned but has since been enjoined by a court. Idaho’s trigger ban will hopefully take effect by the end of August. Both trigger bans prohibit abortion in almost all but a few circumstances.

 

Unfortunately, the city councils in the two largest cities in each state, Boise and New Orleans, passed abortion sanctuary ordinances. This means the cities will not use city funds or other resources to enforce the states’ pro-life laws. They will not use their police forces to investigate illegal abortions or arrest abortionists. The vote in New Orleans was unanimous[1] while Boise was 3-2.[2] Yes, the law in Idaho is being undermined by three people. As disheartening as this is, it may be more symbolic than a practical impact on the legal availability of abortion.

 

In June 2022, before Roe was overturned, Planned Parenthood closed their surgical abortion clinic within the city limits of Boise.[3] The Meridian Planned Parenthood, which is about 20 minutes outside of Boise, continues to provide chemical abortions. But with the impending trigger ban, Planned Parenthood has already started moving resources out of state, opening a new clinic just over the border in Oregon.

 

Planned Parenthood is no longer operational in Boise and the two hospitals that operate in the city do not advertise offering elective abortions, and abortionfinder.org only located one doctor in Boise who does abortions, even though this doctor does not advertise abortion on his own sight. In other words, even though abortion is still completely legal in Idaho, it seems abortion is not easily available in Boise, regardless of any actions taken by the city council.

 

A similar situation seems to exit in New Orleans. With the threat of illegality hanging over their heads, abortion clinics have either shut their doors or suspended doing abortions for the time being. This is not to say abortions are not being performed, just that they are not being readily advertised. In response to the city of New Orleans refusal to uphold legal protection for the unborn, the Louisiana Bond Commission voted to withhold $39 million from the city of New Orleans.[4] It remains to be seen whether Idaho will exert a penalty against the city of Boise.

 

The fact that it seems the abortion industry has voluntarily shuttered itself in these cities does not negate the fact that these city officials have taken it upon themselves to ignore state law. It is true the respective state attorney generals can always step in and enforce the laws. Again, we are relying on an elected official to enforce the law. Just like the city councils, a pro-abortion attorney general could also refuse to enforce pro-life laws.

 

The situations in Boise and New Orleans teach us some valuable lessons. Local elections matter. Now that abortion has been returned to the people, we must remain vigilant at all levels of government. Also, the actions of these city councils perfectly illustrate the importance of private enforcement mechanisms. The addition of civil recourse to abortion legislation deters abortionists and ensures some kind of enforcement when our elected officials fail to do their jobs. The genius of the Texas Fetal Heartbeat law was the addition of the private enforcement mechanism. Now that Roe is behind us, as we move forward with our efforts to protect mothers and their unborn children we need to realize that outlawing abortion is not enough. Pro-life laws must have effective enforcement mechanisms.

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[1] New Orleans Council passes resolution that could prevent city from enforcing trigger laws, Aubry Killion, WDSU,  Jul 7, 2022, https://www.wdsu.com/article/new-orleans-council-abortion-resolution/40534804#.

[2] Mayor McLean, Boise City Council Make Boise a Sanctuary City for Abortion, Action Idaho, Jul 20, 2022,

https://www.actionidaho.org/post/mayor-mclean-boise-city-council-make-boise-a-sanctuary-city-for-abortion?fbclid=IwAR1chvDDplNGme--TETPQcXhEKISg__8oqGRDn4inmEaPO5DETRilgprc6A.

[3] 1 of Idaho’s 3 Planned Parenthood clinics has closed as abortion access fears grow, The Spokane Review, June 9, 2022, https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2022/jun/09/1-of-idahos-3-planned-parenthood-clinics-has-close/.

[4] Louisiana Withholds $39 Million From New Orleans Because it Won’t Enforce Abortion Ban, Ben Johnson, LifeNews, July 25, 2022, https://www.lifenews.com/2022/07/25/louisiana-withholds-39-million-from-new-orleans-because-it-wont-enforce-abortion-ban/?fbclid=IwAR2oMfV71rhfWmgE0P0TfeIDdj1u1TbQr9CWKNoJnFIk_wUs9dxJdDRMgoM.