During Wednesday’s City of Tallahassee Commission meeting, elected officials voted 3-2 to support a controversial resolution supporting legislative efforts to protect citizens’ right to reproductive healthcare, including abortion.
In addition, the resolution was critical of state funding for “anti-abortion pregnancy centers” and of the Florida law that requires parental consent for minor to get an abortion.
The resolution was requested by officials with the Florida National Organization for Women, who are seeking support from local governments for pro-choice laws in Florida.
The City of Tallahassee has no legal authority related to abortion.
Mayor John Dailey and City Commissioners Jeremy Matlow and Jack Porter supported the resolution.
Commissioner Curtis Richardson and Commissioner Dianne Williams-Cox voted against the resolution.
City Commissioner Discussion
After public comment on the resolution, Commissioner Matlow made a motion to adopt the resolution, and Commissioner Porter seconded the motion.
Porter explained that she was raised in a religious household and that this is not a topic she takes lightly. However, she believes in the right for women to choose what is best for them.
Commissioner Williams-Cox stressed her dislike of how “conflated the issue had become.” She said she could not support the resolution, though she believes in a woman’s choice to make the decision regarding her own body. “We are out of our lane here,” she said, “we should not be dealing with this issue. This is an issue for the legislature.”
Commissioner Curtis Richardson agreed with Williams-Cox. He said he is a Christian, and he still believes in the right for women to choose. “My history in the support of women’s rights is well documented. I believe in a woman’s right to choose. It is a personal choice. But this is an issue for the Florida Legislature; what we have to say won’t be heard there.”
Mayor Dailey had little to say regarding the resolution, other than he supports it. He also recommended that the resolution language be changed to reflect the vote, possibly by adding the names of the two commissioners who were in the affirmative.
None of the city commissioners proposed pulling the resolution. And none of the three city commissioners that supported the resolution showed any understanding toward those citizens who were staunchly against it.
The resolution states that the mayor and the commissioners support “access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare, including abortion, contraception, prenatal care, labor and delivery services, and postpartum care. It defines the necessity for people’s overall health and healthcare as a fundamental human right,” regardless of race, gender, or income level.
The resolution also states abortion is one of the safest medical procedures in the United States and blocking access to legal abortions jeopardizes women’s health. It further says the impact of abortion restrictions is predominantly felt by those who already experience barriers to healthcare, including young people, people of color, and those with disabilities.
Lastly, the resolution discusses Florida law, which in some cases restricts access to abortion care and funds anti-abortion pregnancy centers. The mayor and city commissioners urge the Florida Legislature to join other states in protecting and promoting access to reproductive healthcare and abortion.
An already divisive issue nationally, it seems the resolution may stoke the fire locally. During the meeting, the commissioners heard over thirty speakers both for and against the resolution. Many speakers became tense and frustrated as they heard from those with opposing views. Some cited statistics and studies on the impacts of abortion, and some quoted the bible. Others recounted personal stories of their inability to obtain a safe abortion and its effects on their life.
The resolution did not mention adoption as an alternative to abortion and adoption went largely unmentioned during the course of the discussion.