While California recently signed two laws expanding access to abortion in the state, the town of Bakersfield has debated a resolution to severely restrict abortion access. Following on the heels of
Gov. Jerry Brown signing AB 154 and AB 980 last week, the Bakersfield City Council debated the “Human Life Amendment” Wednesday.
As RH Reality Check reported earlier this year, the ordinance was originally designed to completely outlaw abortion. However, legal concerns have caused those pushing the restrictions to scale back in scope.
In its original form, the ordinance would have made it “unlawful within the city of Bakersfield for any entity to receive any form of consideration for the purpose of killing any inhabitants of the city.” However, as the Bakersfield Californian reported, serious concerns about liability and the expense defending the city from lawsuits were raised by the City Attorney Ginny Gennaro. This caused the council to table the ordinance in May.
After several revisions, the council listened to public testimony on the resolution with new language Wednesday. After hearing more than 20 members of the public testify both for and against the ordinance, the council surprised most observers by voting to table the ordinance indefinitely. With a 5-2 vote, with ordinance supporters Jacquie Sullivan and Russell Johnson voting in the minority, the ordinance will not be able to be brought back up without the support of at least four council members.
Jennifer Smith, co-founder of Pro-Choice Kern County, told RH Reality Check that a small group of anti-choice activists tried to pass the ordinance under the radar earlier this year. Reproductive rights advocates organized to fight the proposed ordinance and create Pro-Choice Kern County. Despite the proponents of the ordinance’s assertions, Smith says that their goal is clear. “Their angle is to completely outlaw abortion,” said Smith. “This resolution is all a wedge issue this small group is using to push their agenda.”