City council takes sides in national abortion debate

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By John Larson
jlarson@tacomaweekly.com

In response to actions taken by several state legislatures around the nation to place restrictions on access to abortion, Tacoma City Council has declared its support for a woman’s right to choose. On June 18, the council passed a resolution “expressing support of the right to bodily autonomy and a person’s right to access the full spectrum of reproductive health care services, including the right to access abortion, regardless of gender identity and expression, documentation status, income or age.”
Councilmember Catherine Ushka, primary sponsor of the resolution, recalled marching in the streets of Washington, D.C. at age 19 to support a woman’s right to choose. She said it is imperative that the council affirm its support for this right.
“We tend to shy away from such issue resolutions,” said Councilmember Anders Ibsen. He said it is important for him as a man to let his constituents know what side he is on regarding this issue. Ibsen said he is proud of his colleagues for taking this stand. “This council is firmly pro-choice.
“We could have sat on our hands and done nothing,” Mayor Victoria Woodards remarked. Instead, the council did what is right. The action was taken in response to a request from pro-choice advocates concerned about laws being enacted in other states. Missouri, Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio and Georgia have passed bans on abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected. This can happen as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. In Alabama, the governor signed a bill that would make performing most abortions a felony offense. None of these have taken effect yet, and it is likely that some will face legal challenges.
One person testified on the topic during public comment. Abby Rawson, a student and resident of Tacoma, spoke in favor of the resolution. She and several other members of the National Abortion Rights Action League Pro-Choice Washington attended the meetings, wearing matching purple T-shirts in a show of solidarity. Rawson said protecting a woman’s right to choose is a paramount duty of the government. She said many people know someone who has had an abortion. “Abortions are necessary.”

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