Ohio city bans all abortions, declares itself a 'sanctuary city for the unborn'

A local council in Ohio voted Tuesday night to ban all abortions within city limits and declare itself a “sanctuary city for the unborn.”

Members of the Lebanon City Council voted unanimously to approve the measure, the first of its kind in the state.

The ordinance makes it illegal to provide an abortion, aid an abortion, provide money or transportation for the procedure or provide instructions for an abortion. Those found guilty of this misdemeanor could serve up to six months in jail and receive a $1,000 fine.

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Women seeking abortions will not be prosecuted, according to the measure.

The measure does not make exceptions for rape or incest, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer. However, exemptions are allowed in cases of ectopic pregnancies, miscarriages and to preserve the health of the unborn child.

There are no abortion clinics in Lebanon and no plans to open one, the newspaper noted.

The contentious city council debate on Tuesday evening led to the resignation of the lone member in opposition to the measure, as anti-abortion and abortion rights protesters clashed outside.

Krista Wyatt, the seventh council member, quit in protest before the meeting began, saying she is “heartbroken to not fulfill my term.”

“But as a respectable, decent human being, I can no longer allow my name to be associated with the Lebanon City Council,” she wrote in her resignation letter obtained by Fox 19 Now.

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Wyatt accused the other council members of hijacking the governing panel to “force their personal, political and religious views on the entire citizenship of Lebanon.”

“It is not fair to the citizens and is not the role of a City Council member to be a moral compass. The Charter clearly states that we are to be elected as a non-partisan status, but the Council membership has strayed very far from that,” she wrote.

Mayor Amy Brewer said the measure would go into effect immediately.

"We are clearly saying in our community we do not think it is in our best interest to open a clinic or a hospital that does abortions," Brewer said, according to The Enquirer. "We are elected to make decisions based on what's good for our community today."

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Ohio and Planned Parenthood said before the vote that they are prepared to sue over the “blatantly unconstitutional” law.

"This hyper-local strategy is another attempt by anti-abortion extremists to stigmatize and ban abortion in Ohio, by whatever means necessary. Anti-abortion politicians in Lebanon have no business interfering in people's lives and health care. We will do everything in our collective power to ensure this effort is dead on arrival," Freda Levenson, legal director for the ACLU of Ohio, said in a statement.

The state has nine abortion clinics open for patients seeking the procedure.

The council's vote comes a week after the U.S. Supreme Court said it would take up a dispute over a Mississippi law that bans virtually all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.