Opponents, proponents speak out on proposed human-life ordinance

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) - Bakersfield resident Jennifer Smith walked up to the podium and addressed the Bakersfield City Council with a question.

"Why would you even consider this ridiculous human-life ordinance?" asked Smith, who heads Pro-Choice Kern County, a group that supports reproductive rights, including abortion.

The group was responding to a proposed ordinance submitted to the city by Tim Palmquist, administrator of LifeSavers Ministries. Palmquist is a long-time anti-abortion activist.

The proposed ordinance reads in part, "It shall be unlawful within the City of Bakersfield for any entity to receive any form of consideration for the purpose of killing any inhabitants of the City."

"It's a way for the city of Bakersfield, based upon the charter, for the city of Bakersfield to say what can we do here in Bakersfield about human lives that are being killed?" said Palmquist.

The majority of speakers before the City Council were opposed to such an ordinance, but a few were in favor of it as well. Those who supported it often quoted the Bible.

"I don't know about the rest of the audience, but I was taught that thou shall not kill," said Christy Horn. Tea Party activist Bill Lind said he, too, supported the ordinance as he addressed the City Council.

"My words are directed at members of the City Council that are Christians," said Lind.

But the ordinance goes further. It says that damages will be awarded to any person who is "aggrieved" by an abortion. An aggrieved person would be able to file a civil claim, including $10,000 per violation from the person, business, organization or government agency providing the abortion.

City Council members listened patiently to speakers on both sides of the issue. But, in the end, the only opinion that may matter is that of city attorney Ginny Gennaro.

"The ordinance that is being proposed right now is not constitutional and in my opinion would never withstand a constitutional challenge," said Gennaro.

Instead of an ordinance, City Council member Jacquie Sullivan has asked city staff to draft a resolution stating that the City Council as a whole is opposed to abortion. Such a resolution would merely be a policy statement without any legal consequences said Gennaro.