Maryland City Council Rejects Request to Pass Ordinance Making Hagerstown a Sanctuary for the Unborn

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HAGERSTOWN, Md. — The Hagerstown city council and mayor have rejected a request to pass an ordinance that would have made the city a sanctuary for the unborn by prohibiting abortion facilities from opening within its borders.

According to the Herald-Mail, council members discussed the matter on Tuesday, outlining why they would not support the effort.

Councilman Kristin Aleshire said that he would not get behind any proposal that conflicts with federal law, whether it be about abortion, immigration or gun rights.

Councilwoman Emily Keller agreed, advising that she identifies as so-called pro-choice and does not wish to restrict abortion access.

Councilman Lew Metzner stated that he holds to the same view and plans to uphold Roe v. Wade. He said that those who have spoken to the council on the matter have based their argument in religion, but he does not share the beliefs of the Christians behind the measure as he identifies as Jewish.

The Herald-Mail reported last month that Metzner “objected to anti-abortion speakers using the word ‘murder’ [during city council meetings] when referring to Hagerstown Reproductive Health Services.”

Councilman Austin Heffernan said he found the ordinance and resolution request to be a waste of time because the city must follow the Supreme Court.

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“If you don’t think Roe vs. Wade is correct or fair, then take it to federal court,” he remarked.

And Mayor Bob Bruchey advised that while he personally opposes abortion, he believes that women should be able to choose as he does not does not want to tell them what to do.

As previously reported, city council members in Waskom, Texas voted unanimously last June to disallow any abortion facilities from doing business within its borders, declaring such entities to be “criminal organizations.”

The approved ordinance contained the exceptions of rape, incest and life of the mother — language not included in the original proposal, but later inserted by an attorney reportedly out of the belief that doing so would withstand a challenge before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The cities of Omaha and Naples, Texas soon passed similar ordinances, but with the notation that those who illegally commit abortions in violation of the new law will not be punished “unless and until” Roe v. Wade is overturned, and even then, no mother who obtains or performs an abortion may face criminal or civil penalties.

However, council members in Mineral Wells, Texas voted against a measure to outlaw abortion within its municipality, stating that they feared the cost of a potential lawsuit.

Mayor Christopher Perricone backed the resolution, but his efforts were thwarted by the city attorney, who counseled the council not to pass the ordinance because it conflicts with federal precedent.

“If we’re going to take the stance that we believe that life begins at conception, that our duty as elected officials is to protect that life, then I feel that we need to take the strongest stand possible,” Perricone told Fox4 News.

As previously reported, Idaho Rep. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, resubmitted a bill last month that would eliminate an exception in current state law that forbids criminal prosecution when the mother has given consent to kill her unborn child. It directs the Idaho attorney general to ensure that state agencies enforce the law “regardless of any contrary or conflicting federal statutes, regulations, executive orders or court decisions.”

Last year, in refuting the assertion that Idaho is bound to the 1973 Supreme Court ruling of Roe v. Wade, Scott pointed to language in the state Federal Firearm, Magazine and Register Ban Enforcement Act, which directs officials to ignore any federal laws that are contrary to language in the Idaho Constitution as they pertain to firearms.

“It is the intent of the legislature in enacting this act to protect Idaho law enforcement officers from being directed, through federal executive orders, agency orders, statutes, laws, rules, or regulations enacted or promulgated on or after the effective date
of this act, to violate their oath of office and Idaho citizens’ rights under Section 11, Article I, of the Constitution of the State of Idaho,” the 2014 Act reads.

“My question to you is: Why would we stand up for firearms when we won’t stand up for human life?” Scott asked.

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