An Ohio city of 20,000 people this week became the first in the state and one of the first in the Midwest to declare itself a "sanctuary" for the unborn.
The city council of Lebanon, Ohio, unanimously voted on Tuesday to declare itself a "sanctuary city for the unborn" as part of an ordinance prohibiting abortion within the city limits. Lebanon is located about 30 miles northeast of Cincinnati. The town has no abortion clinics, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer.
"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," said Amy Brewer, Lebanon's mayor. "We are elected to make decisions based on what's good for our community today."
Most sanctuary city ordinances have involved areas in Texas, although at least two Nebraska towns have passed such declarations. More than 25 cities have such ordinances.
Krista Wyatt, a council member, resigned in protest before the council voted. She opposes the ordinance.
"There is a core group of people who have hijacked the council to force their personal, political and religious views on the entire citizenship of Lebanon," Wyatt said in a letter. "It is not fair to the citizens and is not the role of a City Council member to be a moral compass."
Ohio Right to Life applauded the city's action.
"Through this vote, the people of Lebanon have made their voices abundantly clear: Planned Parenthood isn't welcome in our city," said Allie Frazier, director of communications at Ohio Right to Life. "Lebanon's commitment to life demonstrates what we already know: Ohio is pro-life. The victimization of women and children through abortion has no place in our communities.
"It is our sincere hope," Frazier added, "that more cities across Ohio will follow the lead of our pro-life friends in Lebanon and make their communities safe places for unborn babies and women in crisis."
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Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.