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As originally published on Fox 11 on August 3, 2022.

The city of San Clemente is considering a resolution that would ban abortions, declaring itself a "sanctuary for life" as it becomes an abortion-free zone.

Written and proposed by Councilman Steven Knoblock, the resolution "considers life to begin at conception."

During a July 19 city council meeting, Knoblock spoke before other councilmembers, saying "my request is that the city council consider resolutions basically supporting the concept of life."

"I'm asking this city council to consider."

The ordinance was seconded by Mayor Gene James, but is opposed by councilmemers Kathy Ward, Chris Duncan and Laura Ferguson.

"This is not a city issue," said Councilmember Ward. 

"It's going to cause a lot of problems with the council. You're going to make half the people in the city unhappy?" she said.

San Clemente Mayor Gene James added his thoughts on the resolution.

"There's no issue more important to me than protecting the unborn. However, are we prepared to fill this room with people yelling at each other?" he said.

Knoblock agreed with the mayor when asked if he was looking for "a resolution supporting life."

San Clemente City Council will discuss the resolution at the next meeting on Aug. 16.

Planned Parenthood officials from Orange County say that whatever San Clemente does, it would not affect access to abortions in the state, where abortion on demand is legal, but calls the ordinance "dangerous."

California voters will decide in November whether to guarantee the right to an abortion in their state constitution, a question sure to boost turnout on both sides of the debate during a pivotal midterm election year as Democrats try to keep control of Congress after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

The court’s ruling lets states decide for themselves whether to allow abortion. California is controlled by Democrats who support abortion rights, so access to the procedure won’t be threatened anytime soon.

But the legal right to an abortion in California is based upon the "right to privacy" in the state constitution. The Supreme Court’s ruling declared that a right to privacy does not guarantee the right to an abortion. California Democrats fear this ruling could leave the state’s abortion laws vulnerable to challenge in state courts.

To address that, state lawmakers agreed to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot this year that would leave no doubt about the status of abortion in California.

California joins Vermont in trying to protect abortion in its state constitution. The Vermont proposal, also on the ballot this November, does not include the word "abortion" but would protect "personal reproductive autonomy" — although there is an exception "justified by a compelling State interest achieved by the least restrictive means."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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