Arnold votes to send abortion ban to November ballot

Village Board of Arnold hears from citizens wanting abortion issue addressed.
Village Board of Arnold hears from citizens wanting abortion issue addressed.(Courtesy Photo)
Published: Aug. 10, 2022 at 1:42 AM CDT
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NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - On Monday the Village Board of Arnold voted on an ordinance that would make performing an abortion or aiding and abetting an abortion illegal within the city limits of Custer County’s largest village. The ordinance was the result of a citizen initiative petition filed by three Arnold residents. To declare the petition successful, Lori Stutzman, Patty Goodenow, and Jessica Fletcher had to obtain 60 signatures (15% of the 398 registered voters within the Village of Arnold). The three women, with the help of several volunteers, gathered 90 signatures. Of the 90 signatures, 81 were found to be qualified signatures of registered voters in the Village of Arnold.

The Village Board heard from Stutzman, Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn founder Mark Lee Dickson, and Arnold community member John Phillips, all speaking in favor of the ordinance and why they believed it was important to be passed right away.

When board member Donnell Delosh asked about the relevancy of the ordinance being passed in a village where no abortions are currently being performed Dickson shared with the board about the Biden Administration’s commitment to abortion access in every zip code, the deregulation of RU-486, and his understanding of the dangers of the abortion-pill being delivered by mail.

Many in attendance say they hoped the ordinance would pass immediately by board decision, the board told those attending the voters of Arnold should decide, however, the vote in favor of the ordinance going on the November ballot was unanimous. Now the voters of Arnold will decide in November.

Arnold resident Lori Stutzman said, “The village board wants the people to have the say on this very important subject. Part of me is disappointed - I hoped that they would have passed it. And part of me is happy that the people of Arnold will have the say as to whether this ordinance goes into place or not.”

Arnold resident Carol Watson shared, “I have been a resident of Arnold for many years, many decades. I have been in business here. I have stood for decades to pray that abortion would end and now I have that chance to continue this quest in Arnold, Nebraska.” Watson continued, “I thank the village for putting it on the ballot and we will work very hard to see to it that Arnold becomes a sanctuary city for the unborn.”

Other cities whose residents will be voting on ordinances outlawing abortion on November 8 include four Texas cities: Abilene, San Angelo, Plainview, and Athens.

Cities in Nebraska whose residents are currently undergoing the citizen initiative process and may go on the November ballot include Brady, Cozad, Curtis, Gothenburg, Hershey, Maxwell, Moorefield, Stapleton, Sutherland, and Wallace. While citizen initiatives for Bellevue and Kearney have begun, petitioners are hopeful for a special election date in January if their councils choose not to pass the ordinances.

The proposed ordinance outlaws abortion, aiding or abetting an abortion, and the possession and distribution of abortion-inducing drugs within the Village of Arnold, Nebraska. The ordinance defines abortion as, “the act of using or prescribing an instrument, a drug, a medicine, or any other substance, device, or means with the intent to cause the death of an unborn child of a woman known to be pregnant.” The ordinance further states that “An act is not an abortion if the act is done with the intent to: save the life or preserve the health of an unborn child; remove a dead, unborn child whose death was caused by accidental miscarriage; or to remove an ectopic pregnancy.”

In addition to this, the ordinance allows for abortions “if the abortion was in response to a life-threatening physical condition aggravated by, caused by, or arising from a pregnancy that, as certified by a physician, places the woman in danger of death or a serious risk of substantial impairment of a major bodily function unless an abortion is performed” but places the burden of this affirmative defense on the doctor performing the abortion. The penalty for violating the ordinance is a fine of $500, but the ordinance is clear that “under no circumstance may the penalty....be imposed on the mother of the unborn child that has been aborted.”

While the ACLU of Nebraska called upon the Village of Hayes Center and the City of Blue Hill to repeal their ordinances over a year ago, neither municipality has faced litigation for their ordinances. The ACLU has called the “Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn” initiative led by Dickson a “national, extremist effort to shame others and push abortion care out of reach.”

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