San Clemente will consider ‘sanctuary for life’ ordinance in special Saturday meeting

A billboard reads, ‘Welcome to California where abortion is safe and still legal’ on July 12, 2022, in Rancho Mirage, California. Meanwhile, the San Clemente City Council is set to consider a resolution that declares the city a “sanctuary for life where the dignity of every human being will be defended and promoted from life inside the womb through all stages of development in life up and until a natural death.” (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Knoblock said he recognizes some in the community might be put off by the religious reference. But he maintained that God is frequently referred to by lawmakers nationwide.

“When the president gives a speech, he ends it with: ‘May God Bless America, may God protect our troops,’” he said. “For people to be offended by God, one day we’ll all be accountable to him.”

Community, council divided

News of the proposed resolution ignited a firestorm in San Clemente — and across Southern California.

While San Clemente’s city clerk has not officially posted the resolution, a draft version has made its way around town. Many are enraged by it, while some support it.

“I believe in the right to life. But I can’t support a resolution to eliminate a woman’s access to health care,” said Assemblywoman Laurie Davies, R-Laguna Niguel. “It’s for the state to decide, not city by city. I’d like to see them table this.”

San Clemente Mayor Gene James, who last month seconded the motion to discuss the topic at the upcoming council meeting, said he’s heard from residents, and even groups outside of town, who are outraged by the proposal. He said the number in support of the resolution is only a fraction of those who oppose it.

“When I saw the resolution, I was appalled,” James said. “He uses words like ‘condemn;’ (and makes) multiple references to God. And the medical aspect of it is completely erroneous.

“I’m a pro-life Republican, but this is beyond the pale,” James added. “I would have been happy to support the resolution if it said: ‘We support the recent decision on Roe v. Wade because it returns the policing power to the state.’”

James is trying to find a way to undo the planned upcoming discussion. He tried to rescind his vote to second the discussion — even running the idea by the city attorney — and hoped Knoblock might reconsider. James called the special meeting for Saturday, Aug. 6.

“I ask that Councilman Knoblock, in the interest of unity, pull this from the agenda,” James said.

Meanwhile, Nichole Ramirez, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood in Orange and San Bernardino counties, said her group has been contacted by residents of San Clemente who oppose Knoblock’s proposal. She described Knoblock’s effort as an “obvious example of an extreme politician using his personal agenda.”

“It’s extremely alarming that he thinks he can make a personal health decision for many,” she said. “His information is completely inaccurate.”

Planned Parenthood plans to participate in a rally for women’s rights and access to health care services. The event is scheduled near the San Clemente Pier on Wednesday, Aug. 10.

Still, others, like Pastor John Randall of Calvary South OC in San Clemente, are cheering Knoblock on for saying abortion is not a political issue but a Biblical one.

“We believe life begins at conception and spiritual life begins at the cross,” Randall said.

Legal questions remain 

Experts suggest San Clemente’s resolution would not be legal if it contradicts state law.

A city could make a policy decision — as seen with so-called sanctuary cities that limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities — as long as it is not inconsistent with another law, said Lisa C. Ikemoto, a UC Davis law professor who specializes in public health and reproductive rights.

“It conflicts with state law,” Mary Ziegler, an incoming UC Davis law professor, said of San Clemente’s resolution. “It may soon conflict with state constitutional law. And so, unless there’s more ambitious lawyering than what has gone on to date, this is not likely going to have any kind of feet.”

“This seems to be just people putting themselves on the record that they don’t like abortion,” added Ziegler, an expert on reproduction and health care politics. “I don’t know if they intend for this to be more than just posturing.”

And beyond its legality, the resolution could have other implications.

“The messaging behind it might create some confusion to people living in Orange County or traveling to Orange County to seek health care services,” Ikemoto said. “That confusion itself might prevent people from obtaining abortion services.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.