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Resolution supporting unborn carried by council

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Attendees of the full City Council meeting on Thursday raise their hands in response to Mayor Dennis Kintigh asking who was in favor of a resolution supporting the unborn. (Alison Penn Photo)

Amendment shows council’s support of adoption instead of abortion

Though House Bill 51 (HB 51) failed at the Senate level, Roswell City Council approved a resolution in support of the unborn and adding additional support for adoption over abortion in unplanned pregnancies.

The councilors took care of other business at Thursday evening’s lengthy meeting — beginning at 6 p.m. and ending at 11:55 p.m., according to City Clerk Sharon Coll. City Councilor Judy Stubbs was elected as mayor pro tem after drawing the highest suit of a card with other nominees, councilors Jeanine Corn Best and Savino Sanchez. The council nominated the three and each vote was tied with three votes for each nominee from the nine present councilors. Councilor George Peterson was the only one absent.

Following the approval of the Second Amendment sanctuary resolution, Councilor Sanchez announced that HB 51 — which if passed would have repealing sections that criminalize abortions — was not passed by the New Mexico Senate with a vote of 24-18. However, Sanchez made the motion in support of the unborn and Councilor Angela Moore seconded.

The City Council’s final vote to uphold the unborn was 7 to 1 with Councilor Juan Oropesa in opposition. Councilor Stubbs chose to abstain, and in explaining her vote, she said this was the “hardest vote to take” in her 17 years as a city councilor. She said she chose to abstain because she felt that she “probably would not have voted in the manner in which my constituency would have chosen me to.”

Prior to the final vote, Councilor Barry Foster introduced an amendment to the resolution adding that the city supports “adoption as an alternative to abortion,” while also urging the high levels of government to also support adoption and “ease the burden of adoption.” Councilor Jeanine Corn Best seconded Foster’s motion. The amendment passed with 6 to 3 with Sanchez, Oropesa and Roebuck casting dissenting votes, some with explanations.

Background

As presented in the meeting’s agenda, the drafted resolution cited the Declaration of Independence using “life being the first declared right” and an abstract from the American College of Pediatricians saying that life begins at conception/fertilization. The drafted resolution states that “innocent human life” deserves protection and the city would declare opposition from the state Legislature to decrease limits on abortion.

Additionally, the drafted resolution said council honors “rights of healthcare providers to object on moral grounds to performing abortions” and may oppose regulations or laws that would infringe on this right.

City Manager Joe Neeb clarified that there was no formal resolution for discussion and consideration at Legal Committee on Feb. 28 for discussion, but five councilors requested that a resolution be considered by the full council. Councilors Sanchez, Jacob Roebuck, Caleb Grant, Jeanine Corn Best and Steve Henderson were the five councilors who formally showed support of a proposed resolution, according to City Clerk Sharon Coll.

Mayor Dennis Kintigh said the councilors and attendees witnessed “passionately held positions articulated in a dignified and heartfelt way” and said the actions even showed the quality and character of the community.

Council’s comments 

Thanking those praying about the issue, Sanchez said as a young man in the ‘60s and ‘70s, he stood against abortion and “didn’t speak up,” but in light of current events, he said it was “time to take a stand and speak for those that don’t have a voice.” He said 60 million abortions “grieved his heart.”

Councilor Grant thanked Sanchez for bringing the resolution forward to show the stance of the community and cautioned the issue will be back.

Councilor Moore shared her own story, putting a set of twins up for adoption after facing a potential abortion as a teen. Moore said she agreed with the amendment and said originally that she wasn’t going to speak on the matter.

“And was it difficult?” Moore rhetorically asked. “Yes, but my point about this is that you have the option — and that’s why I agreed to adding to this. The information on adoption is expensive and all that … (adoption) it was an option of choice that we have as women. So this is a sad situation, that we’ve come to a place where they don’t think a life is a life, but at that age, I don’t think I knew any better. And until someone gave me a choice, an option, I thought that was my only option and so this is an important situation for me …”

Oropesa said the matter was a “very controversial issue” and he did not support abortion under normal pregnancies. In instances of rape and incest, Oropesa said the decision should be a discussion between a woman and her doctor on an individual basis. He said he did not want to be “judge and jury of individuals” choosing abortion for extenuating circumstances.

O.L. Adcock, Jason Perry, Kaarina Jager, Molly Boyles and Margaret Rodriguez shared their insights and opinions during public participation. The speakers expressed relief that HB 51 failed and said other abortion bills may be reviewed by the Legislature at the next session. Some of the speakers stated their concerns about “full-term” abortions, experiences with assisting women in facing difficult choices and the infringement of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

“Here in the United States, we have severe penalties for destroying eagle eggs or turtle eggs, but human children in the womb, with a heartbeat with feelings are being dismembered and killed,” Boyles said. “I’m very happy to hear that the bill did not pass, but I do think that it would be a great thing for a city to declare that we believe in the sanctity of life …”

City/RISD reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.