The Riverton City Council on Tuesday night passed a resolution that opposes abortion and made Riverton “a sanctuary city for the unborn.”
Tawnee McCay, city councilwoman and sponsor of the resolution, said it’s her dream to see Roe v. Wade overturned. She hoped this is the first step. “As more cities join us in this resolution we will send a clear message to the state of Utah.”
McCay said she’s already had council members from Alpine, Highland and Saratoga Springs reach out to her in the interest of passing something similar in their towns.
Some Riverton residents spoke out at the meeting, saying it was an overstep from the city council. Riverton resident Mariah Colbert said the resolution was a mistake. “If you want to stop abortions, focus on pro-sex education in schools, focus on free birth control for citizens. This is a state issue, and you need to focus on the city.”
The resolution defines human life beginning at the moment of conception and states, “that human life must always be valued and protected.” It goes on to support the right of health care providers to decline abortion practices based on moral grounds, opposes lessening restrictions on abortion and “encourages our state and federal government to protect every human life, including the lives on the unborn, where possible.”
But the passage of the resolution doesn’t change city ordinance or law. Instead, it simply demonstrates the council's stance on abortion.
This type of non-binding resolution opposing abortion is starting to appear around the country. McCay initially got the idea to pass the resolution after Roswell, New Mexico, passed a similar one in March of this year, which was modeled off of a Lea County, New Mexico, resolution from February 2019. Five residents of Raleigh, North Carolina, urged their city council to consider a similar resolution on Monday.
These resolutions come at a time when more restrictive abortion legislation is appearing nation-wide. The Utah legislature recently passed a law restricting abortions after 18 weeks. That law is on hold while the legislation is set to be heard in federal court. The Riverton resolution was also passed on the same day that the governor of Georgia signed a law restricting abortion after the heartbeat is detectable, usually after six-weeks.
Katrina Barker, Communications and Marketing Manager from Planned Parenthood Action Council of Utah, doesn’t think these resolutions carry any legislative weight. “It’s not about healthcare, it’s not about protecting women, it’s not about doing anything to protect their constituents. It’s about politics,” Barker said.
Correction: An earlier version of this story had misspelled Tawnee McCay's name.