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Resolution 30-18 and the Pro-Life Strategy for Passing Local Resolutions
Jennifer Christie 26 September 2018
"Resolution 30-18: RESOLUTION recognizing and declaring the humanity of preborn children and urging the citizens of Anne Arundel County, MD, to encourage the humane treatment of all human beings, including preborn children, as well as to promote and defend the dignity of all human life."[i]
That was the description of the resolution introduced by Council Chairman Michael Peroutka that I was going to be arguing in favor of on a sticky evening in Ann Arundel County, Maryland. Recognizing the humanity of preborn children? Why that needed arguing was baffling to me then and distressing to me later, when the resolution failed to pass after a council vote of 3-4.[ii]
It had been a long night for everyone. For nearly seven hours we sat in a closed room and heard testimony about potential pay increases for public servants, police access to massage parlors, and even the zoning of miniature pigs living in residential areas. What would happen to these pets if there was a change in the law if it was determined that they were unacceptable where they were? What do to with the newly criminal pigs? Big questions for sure.
The county police and fire officials present were not there in case of porcine upset however. There were more than 200 people in attendance...and everyone wanted the chance to say just how they felt about abortion.
Though asked repeatedly to not react to the testimonies of others, every passionate two minute diatribe that emphasized "bodily autonomy" and suggested that the passing of this resolution was dragging women back to an archaic state of servitude was met with clapping and various vocal affirmations. Any mention of the sanctity of life, the emotional trauma related to abortion - disapproving groans; sometimes quiet jeers.
Though the word "abortion" was never mentioned in its description, Resolution 30-18 was being called the "abortion resolution." As a mother from rape, I testify when I can, wherever pro-life legislation or a resolution is discussed - as I did in Iowa last spring for the then proposed Heartbeat Bill.[iii] "What about the poor raped woman who becomes pregnant?" is probably the most frequently used argument in favor of abortion at any stage. Unfortunately, very few people actually hear from the women who have lived through it; women who can speak to the healing that an innocent child brings after a devastating violation. Very few people hear how in our darkest moments, finding out that we are carrying life, brings light back into our world. Hope when hope was so recently extinguished. There is much at stake and our truth disturbs the rhetoric from the other side that "termination" is the compassionate "choice".
The passing of this type of personhood resolution wouldn't mean women's health care was affected. The council couldn't limit access to abortion, but everyone in that room understood there was more to it than simply acknowledging humanity. More at stake than a countywide acknowledgement that life should be treated with dignity even in its earliest form. A resolution of this sort at the county level could serve as an example to other counties. A "template" in the words of Peroutka, to show that change can (and must) begin locally. Enacting just such a beginning at the municipal level allows for the grass roots momentum that inspires real change.
This past June, the Iowa Supreme Court overturned the 72 hour waiting period law finding that there's a broader right to abortion within the state constitution than there is in even the Federal Constitution (pursuant to Roe v. Wade and subsequent U.S Supreme Court cases.) We know that the Heartbeat law will also ultimately be found unconstitutional as well and any proposed reasonable abortion restrictions. This is the strategy of Planned Parenthood. They've been attacking at the state level in preparation of a potential overturn of Roe v. Wade. If the Iowa Supreme Court has found abortion to be a "right" then abortion would remain legal in that state.
Since the Reagan Era, we have been talking about changing the US Constitution to clearly recognize the personhood of children in the womb, to acknowledge that life begins at conception. But that's mostly all that is has been. A lot of talk, but very little movement unfortunately. As a result, it is time to change tactics. The strategy of inaction at the municipal level has been woefully ineffective. The only solution is to amend the state constitution to accept personhood or, like in Tennessee, simply find that there isn't a right to an abortion. (If you're going to change your state's constitution though, go for broke. Demand personhood).
If cities or counties pass resolutions such as the proposed acknowledgement of preborn humanity in Ann Arundel County, that will put much needed pressure on the pro-life organizations of the state to then fight for change at their state level to demand changes to their constitution.
When Resolution 30-18 was defeated, a cheer went up in the courtroom. A cheer, hugging, and clapping, celebrating the refusal to acknowledge life at its most vulnerable. This is what we're up against. It is a mentality not enough of us are horrified by. Time is of the essence. Every day we wait for someone else to take the reins, for someone else to speak up, more children are being killed. Lives snuffed out in the name of convenience. It's time to act because the other side isn't idle.
I don't want to look at my son one day and tell him that I didn't do everything I could to fight for the one’s society has deemed disposable. As it stands, in Ann Arundel County, MD, today, it's safer to be an animal than a preborn baby. My evening into early morning in that room left me with a clear picture of, not only what was happening there, but all across America. The message is clear. Save the mini pigs, sure. But when will we save the mini humans?
[i] The Resolution may also be viewed here: https://www.aacounty.org/departments/county-council/legislation/bills-and-resolutions/resolution-recognizing-and-declaring-the-humanity-of-preborn-children-and-urging-the-citizens-of-anne-arundel-county-to-encourage-the-humane-treatment-of-all-human-beings-including-prebom-children-as-well-as-to-promote-and-defend-the-dignity-of-all-human
[iii] You may view my testimony here: https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10156578036633728&id=49651563727
Jennifer Christie is an international pro-life speaker with Save The 1. To read more about her or schedule a speaking engagement, visit her website at http://www.savethe1.com/jennifer-christie-pro-life-speaker/