Nov 23, 2021 2 mins, 11 secs
Across Ohio, tactics pioneered in Texas are being deployed in disruptive city council meetings.

In May of this year, six city council members in Lebanon, Ohio, a city located just north of Cincinnati, voted on an ordinance that would effectively outlaw abortion for the 21,000 people that call it home.

Ultimately though, the vote was a resolute 6-0, making Lebanon the 29th city in the nation, and the first city in Ohio, to pass an enforceable ordinance outlawing abortion within their city limits.

As the nation waits for a supreme court ruling on abortion rights, pro-choice advocates and activists across the US know first-hand that any upcoming national ruling might be almost irrelevant given what’s already taken place in Ohio and beyond.

For the last few months, small municipalities – many without any standing abortion clinics – like Lebanon, Mason and soon maybe others, have outlawed abortion.

The tactic of outlawing abortion by city began in Texas, due mostly to the traveling preacher and director of the non-profit Right to Life of East Texas, Mark Lee Dickson.

Since 2019, Dickson has traversed the country encouraging municipalities to pass ordinances outlawing abortion – including laws that defined abortion as premeditated murder and others that made it illegal for anyone to help someone obtain an abortion within city limits – and declare themselves “sanctuary cities for the unborn”.

Dickson’s initiative, Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn, has now helped 41 cities – 37 in Texas alone – create custom-tailored ordinances that outlaw abortion based on the state’s law and the city’s charter?

“He doesn’t bring these ordinances to a city unless he knows that he has enough people there to support them,” explains Strevel, who has been actively protesting against anti-abortion ordinances at city council meetings throughout Ohio.

Like Lebanon, Mason – which is located just 14 minutes away – is known as a solidly conservative city.

The Mason city council received the ordinance draft from Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn and Dickson confirmed he was in talks with officials in Mason before the Lebanon ordinance was even finalized.

“A lot of people do not think Ohio is as red or as right as Texas, but these anti-abortion groups just copy and paste policy from statehouse to statehouse and city to city,” says Jordyn Close, Ohio state coordinator with Urge: Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity.

“In city council meetings, the people that are testifying in favor of these bans and unconstitutional bills are not from here.

If all I’m going to get is resistance from a now completely white male extremist rightwing council – because that’s what this city elected – I’m not wasting my time on Lebanon

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