Proposed ban on abortion clinics shows up on Manatee County Commission agenda
Commissioners may vote to ask Florida AG for her 'legal guidance'
Manatee County commissioners on Tuesday will vote on whether to ask Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody for legal guidance on how to implement a local ban on abortion clinics in the county.
Commissioners are not scheduled to vote on a ban, which has been proposed by Commissioner James Satcher, but on whether to send a letter to Moody expressing the commission’s “desire to establish Manatee County as a ‘Safe Haven. for developing children who are inside their mother’s womb.”
The proposed letter acknowledges that there currently are no abortion clinics in Manatee County. However, “As Manatee County grows in population it is our desire abortion providing franchises will not operate in our county,” the proposed letter states.
The proposed letter notes the county already protects “tortoises’ nests, turtles’ eggs and puppies.”
“We find a fetus in the womb to have immense value, and therefore we are motivated to provide her or him protection from deliberate and premature death,” the proposed letter states.
Commissioners will also vote on whether to direct County Attorney William Clague to formally ask Moody for an advisory opinion on whether a local ban on abortion clinics would be legal under state law.
It’s a question the attorney general’s office has addressed before.
Would a local ban be legal?
In 1985, then-Attorney General Jim Smith told the city of Ocala that local governments in Florida were barred from imposing additional regulations on abortion clinics, other than zoning rules that control where they can operate. Smith’s opinion was part of a packet of abortion-related information Clague’s office provided commissioners, most of which suggested a local ban might not be legal.
The Bradenton Times published the packet, after receiving the information in response to an open records request.
Satcher has said he is modeling his proposed ban after a similar measure adopted approved by voters in Lubbock, Texas. Before it was adopted, an outside law firm told the Lubbock city attorney that the measure was illegal because it was preempted by state law and it violated the U.S. and Texas constitutions, according to a memo included in the packet.
Satcher has been pushing since earlier this summer for the commission to adopt the ban, and appears to have been emboldened by a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding a strict anti-abortion law in Texas.
Who is for a ban? Who is against it?
Satcher has won the support of commissioners Vanessa Baugh and Kevin Van Ostenbridge. Commissioners Reggie Bellamy, Misty Servia and Carol Whitmore are opposed to a ban, and Commissioner George Kruse has said he is undecided.
Commissioners and members of the public have addressed Satcher’s proposal at several meetings, but Tuesday will be the first time it appears on a meeting agenda. It was added to the agenda sometime Monday afternoon.
The commission meeting is set to start at 8:30 a.m. on the first floor of the county administration building, 1112 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton. The item is listed near the end of the meeting agenda.