City Beat Blog

Wednesday, Jul 17 2013 09:21 PM

Council hears arguments for, against Human Life ordinance

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    By Michael Fagans / The Californian

    A very determined Jane Prewett addresses the Bakersfield City Council in opposition to the proposed Human Life ordinance during Wednesday night's meeting. Jane Prewett and others opposed to the ordinance wore pink and she promised the council that she would be back in August.

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    By Michael Fagans / The Californian

    In this file photo, opponents of the proposed Human Life ordinance wear pink and raise their hands to silently "cheer" a speaker during a Bakersfield City Council meeting.

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BY THEO DOUGLAS Californian staff writer tdouglas@bakersfield.com

Abortion took center stage when more than 60 residents visited the Bakersfield City Council meeting Wednesday to critique the city's proposed Human Life ordinance.

The ordinance, titled "Restrictions on Termination of Human Life," was considered May 20 by a council committee.

The committee tabled it indefinitely, amid concerns it would expose the city to costly litigation. The City Attorney's office is drafting a similar, but less-binding resolution.

Thirteen residents returned cards to the city clerk to speak against the ordinance and seven returned cards to speak in support.

Members of Pro-Choice Kern County, an abortion rights Facebook group founded July 10, wore pink, to show the council their support of Bakersfield women.

Resident Jane Prewett wore a pink blouse, and used a cane to walk to the microphone, but she was unwavering in her view.

"Don't you think that it is un-American to impose your views and morals on women in Bakersfield, especially since abortions are legal, and in many cases necessary?" Prewett asked, referencing the Texas Senate's approval Friday of a strict anti-abortion measure.

"Bakersfield is not Texas," Prewett said. "At least not yet."

Retired physician Dale Stewart told the council that "I simply abhor the situation where one man tries to inflict his religious views on another person." Others agreed.

"As you can see, Bakersfield is not a pro-life city. Bakersfield is a pro-liberty and pro-freedom city," said Pro-Choice Kern County founder Jennifer Smith, before more than 40 abortion rights advocates stood to show their support.

Anti-abortion proponents were equally dedicated to their cause.

"You put money in front of life. 'Oh, it's too expensive, it's too this, it's too that,'" resident Christy Horne said. "I value life more than I value money, and I think a lot of you do too."

Retired professor Alvis West cited the Constitution, saying "The founding fathers knew we needed a standard to follow. We need that standard today. God gave us life. We need to honor that."

Others hailed anti-abortion advocate Tim Palmquist, administrator of LifeSavers Ministries and an architect of the ordinance.

"Tim and (wife) Terri Palmquist worked hard to put forth an ordinance that might stand legally," said Bill Lind. "We need to stand for life and liberty for the person in the womb. We can't have liberty without responsibility, and without life."

Due to an error in procedure, neither Tim nor Terri Palmquist -- the final two anti-abortion speakers -- was allowed to speak, because both sides had had their required 15 minutes, and neither the mayor nor the council made a motion to add more time.

In other business, the City Council directed city staff to prepare to assume full operations of the animal shelter it runs jointly with Kern County by Oct. 1. The city currently pays the county $740,000 per year to run the animal shelter, on land it leases from the city, but the county's land lease expires Sept. 30.

City Attorney Ginny Gennaro said that the city provided the county with a draft two-year agreement for transition of operations from the county to the city, but it has not heard from the county.

Gennaro said the city is "cautiously optimistic" the county will respond.

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