San Clemente has backed off of a proposed abortion ban, but not before igniting a firestorm that drew national media coverage and crowds to a special meeting on Saturday.
The item proposed by Councilman Steve Knoblock would have declared San Clemente a “Sanctuary for Life,” and would have tried to prohibit any facility that performs abortions in the city. The draft resolution stated that the City of San Clemente “considers life to begin at conception” and made multiple references to God.
“We believe that life is God-ordained and God is the author and finisher of every life. No matter if at the beginning or at the end,” it read. “As a city council, we will protect and sustain life at every stage. As we ask God to bless America, we first have to honor and respect God.”
The resolution was initially supported by Mayor Gene James. But James reversed course after reading the language.
“It appears to me to be a document that could have been written by a Taliban tribunal, and I’ll say that as a conservative, pro-life Republican,” James said.
The proposal was already highly controversial. Then last Tuesday, the pro-life movement received a stunning wake-up call when voters in the red state of Kansas rejected an anti-abortion amendment by overwhelming margins.
“This is a political earthquake. Roe woke up a giant,” GrassrootsLab’s Mike Madrid tweeted.
Evidently, so did San Clemente. There were so many attendees at Saturday’s last-minute council meeting that officials had to lock the doors to stop people from coming in. Even an overflow viewing room quickly reached capacity.
The council ended up voting 3-1 to withdraw the anti-abortion resolution. Only the resolution’s author, Knoblock, voted to keep it on the agenda. In a Republican stronghold like San Clemente, its the latest signal that elements of the pro-life movement may be overplaying their hand.