Lebanon Is First Ohio City to Ban Abortions

A stock image of protestors marching in protest of anti-abortion laws.
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The Lebanon City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to pass the ordinance and declare the town of Lebanon, a “sanctuary city for the unborn,” CNN reported. The mayor said the ban goes into effect immediately.

An Ohio town has become the first city to outlaw abortion despite hours of public comment, debate, and the departure of one city council member quitting in protest. On Tuesday, the Lebanon City Council voted unanimously to pass the ordinance and declare the town of Lebanon, a “sanctuary city for the unborn,” CNN reported.

The Mayor announced that the ordinance goes into effect immediately despite dozens speaking before the council sharing their stories about miscarriages and rape, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported. 

The law, which declares abortion a "murderous act of violence" must be followed. For those who do not oblige, the punishment is six months in jail and a $1,000 fine, according to the city council.

The ordinance includes performing an abortion, assisting in an abortion, providing money or transportation for an abortion, or providing instructions for an abortion, the Patch reported.

Currently, there are no clinics providing abortions in Lebanon — or in 27 of the 28 cities that have passed similar codes — but the ordinance would make any such provisions illegal, according to the Patch.

Councilman Doug Shope, a conservative Christian, who worked with the Texas-based Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn, was the sponsor behind the new measure, a report said. 

During the four-hour city council meeting, Mayor Amy Brewer told her constituents "we are elected to make decisions based on what's good for our community today," the Enquirer reported.

"We are clearly saying in our community we do not think it is in our best interest to open a clinic or a hospital that does abortions," Brewer said.

Abortion rights groups were outraged as dozens stood outside city hall in protest crying, singing, and chanting for change.

The ordinance was sponsored by six of the seven members of the city council, including Mayor Brewer. City Councilwoman Krista Wyatt was the only council member to oppose the ordinance.

"I am heartbroken to not fulfill my term and I know many people will be disappointed with this. But as a respectable, decent human being, I can no longer allow my name to be associated with the Lebanon City Council,” Wyatt said, Fox19. reported.

Since the vote passed, the ACLU of Ohio and Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio tweeted their opposition to the ordinance. 

The ACLU tweeted that they were reviewing legal action and called it “another attempt by anti-choice politicians to stigmatize and ban abortion in Ohio.” 

The shift in the abortion battleground has been moving to state and local levels with those anti-abortion rivals waiting for the day the high court limits or eliminates abortion entirely. According to the abortion-rights organization the Guttmacher Institute, the rate at which Republican-led states introduced or passed restrictive abortion laws in 2021 has only been eclipsed once in a decade, in 2017, the Patch reported. 

In 2019, the sanctuary city movement began, when abortions were banned in Waskom, Texas. Since then, the appointment of Justice Amy Coney Barrett in October to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg cemented the 6-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court, the Patch reported. 

Ohio currently bans abortion after 20 weeks. Former Gov. John Kasich approved that law in 2016 but vetoed a measure that would have banned abortions after six weeks,  CNN reported. 

In 2019, Gov. Mike DeWine signed the “heartbeat bill,” that would have banned abortion as early as six weeks, but the bill was later blocked by a judge, according to CNN.

The town of Lebanon is located north of Cincinnati, with a population of 20,000, according to the 2019 census. 

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