Bracing for the Supreme Court to strike down reproductive rights, a local government in Pennsylvania has passed a controversial ordinance barring police from enforcing future laws that would ban abortion.
Radnor Township Council on Monday voted 4-3 for an ordinance effectively binding the hands of police if abortion services were criminalized in the swing state. The township vote is the latest move by local and state governments that expect the Supreme Court to strike down abortion rights this month.
A draft notice leaked in May showed the court was preparing to overturn Roe vs. Wade decision recognizing the right to abortion. In anticipation of the court’s sweeping ruling, Republican-controlled states have enacted new restrictions on abortions while Democratic-led states have sought to strengthen protections for the procedure.
Now Radnor Township, a municipality of about 33,000 people outside of Philadelphia, has also taken a concrete step to protect abortion rights.
“In Pennsylvania, where the right to abortion is not protected by the Commonwealth constitution, the door is now wide open to politicians hostile to sexual and reproductive health and the right to deny abortion care to millions. of Pennsylvanians,” said Moira Mulroney, chair of the Radnor Board. of the commissioners, said Monday.
Mulroney said the order was necessary, noting that Republican gubernatorial candidate for Pennsylvania Doug Mastriano and GOP lawmakers have said they will restrict abortion rights.
A draft ordinance states that “it is the intention of Radnor Township to refuse to participate” in an abortion ban.
Opponents of the ordinance, including the public and members of council, argued that it improperly injected city government into a contentious political issue.
“I think that’s wrong,” commissioner Sean Farhy said at the meeting. “I mean, that’s not what we were elected to do. We were elected to talk about parks, or streets, or stormwater, or our $40 million budget.”
Noting that he is a Democrat who supports a woman’s right to choose, Farhy also raised concerns about how abortion clinics left to operate in the township would be overseen.
The ordinance prevents police or other law enforcement officials from using township resources to file complaints, make arrests, conduct investigations or cooperate with other agencies to enforce restrictions on the ‘abortion. Specifically, the ordinance applies to new laws that apply to women seeking an abortion during the first 24 weeks of pregnancy or when the mother’s health is at risk.
The ordinance comes into force 31 days after its promulgation.
Newsweek contacted Mulroney for comment.