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Another ‘sanctuary city’ abortion ban dies in California after attorney general’s warning

Water cascades down the fountain in front of City Hall in Temecula.
Temecula’s City Council voted Tuesday not to pursue a proposed resolution banning abortion. Above, City Hall.
(Andrew Roe / San Diego Union-Tribune)

After California’s attorney general warned Temecula against passing a local abortion ban, the City Council in a heated meeting Tuesday voted not to pursue the measure.

The council voted 4 to 1 not to include the antiabortion resolution on a future council agenda. Councilwoman Jessica Alexander, who had proposed the resolution to declare Temecula “a sanctuary city for Temecula’s unborn,” was the only vote in favor.

“It is our duty as City Council members to uphold the oath we took to the Constitution and protect the rights of our citizens, seen and unseen,” Alexander, the director of Temecula’s Birth Choice Center, said during Tuesday’s meeting. “I am asking this body today to create a resolution that affirms Temecula stands for life, from conception to natural death.”

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Alexander played a video that showed a womb with a fetus.

“We have the right to stand for these babies,” she said, while holding up a figurine of a fetus. “These are children. This is what they look like at 21 weeks old.”

Atty. General Rob Bonta says there will be ‘legal action’ against the Temecula City Council if it attempts to override California law on abortion access.

Ahead of the meeting, Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta’s office had sent a letter to the council Friday, warning that there would be “legal action” if it passed an abortion ban in an attempt to override state law.

By 3 p.m. Tuesday, the city had received 122 emails about the resolution to ban abortions, with 84% opposed, City Clerk Randi Johl said.

Temecula Mayor Matt Rahn, who is running for the Assembly in November as a Republican, said he’s “pro-life” but had problems with being “blindsided” by the resolution at the last council meeting.

“How do we move forward on something like this without, in some regard, disenfranchising a portion of our community? That’s the challenge,” he said during Tuesday’s meeting.

Councilmember Maryann Edwards said she couldn’t back the resolution because it asks the council to “break the law.”

“We have to find a way to provide for those women who find themselves in life-threatening situations or who’ve been violated or trafficked,” she said during the meeting. “We’ve got to find a way to solve that problem. ... You and I both know, as horrible as it is, if laws prohibit something, the people who need help are going to find a way to get around the law.”

Mayor Pro Tem Zak Schwank told Alexander that her actions have been to “serve yourself, your career, your church, your pastor and your political party.”

“I would take this packed house and the conference center and the breezeway and the hundreds of emails in opposition to this as a clue that your view does not represent Temecula as a whole,” he said.

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed bills aimed at strengthening California’s already robust abortion-rights protections.

Speakers including abortion rights advocates and members of the religious community packed the council chambers.

Simon Cooper, the executive pastor at 412 Church Temecula Valley, said Alexander showed strength and bravery in introducing the proposal.

“I would like to express my strong support for Temecula becoming known as a sanctuary city for life,” he said. “Not just in name, but in action, as it can be a huge opportunity to offer support and resources for people who are facing the reality of an unexpected pregnancy.”

Temecula resident Jennifer Krumm said she was “red hot angry” when she heard about the proposed abortion ban.

“First off, how do you turn your back on fellow women?” Krumm asked. “We have fought for our rights and equality for too long and we aren’t even there yet. Do not take away women’s rights. Who are you keeping safe? Who’s being forced to have abortions? Who’s being forced anywhere in the U.S. or nearby?”

A similar antiabortion resolution was proposed last month in San Clemente but was withdrawn on a 3-1 vote.

Tuesday’s meeting in Temecula came as Gov. Gavin Newsom signed 13 abortion protection and reproductive health bills. State lawmakers have sought to fortify California’s abortion protections and develop a plan for the state to become a sanctuary for those denied abortion services in other states in the wake of Roe vs. Wade being overturned.

California voters will decide in November on Proposition 1, an amendment to the state’s Constitution guaranteeing the right to abortion and contraception. A UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll released last month showed 7 in 10 California voters support the constitutional amendment.


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