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Ohio town votes to become ‘sanctuary city for the unborn’

Andrew Cuomo

The city council in Lebanon, Ohio, voted unanimously Tuesday night to pass an ordinance that outlawed abortion in the town.

The ordinance declares Lebanon a “sanctuary city for the unborn,” with abortion punishable with six months in jail and a $1,000 fine, according to the city council. It takes effect immediately.

The vote took place after four hours of public comment and debate.

Lebanon is the first city in Ohio to become such a city, according to the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn initiative.

The city’s mayor and vice mayor did not respond to CNN’s requests for comment.

Approximately 20,000 people live in Lebanon, according to the 2019 Census.

State law

Ohio currently bans abortion after 20 weeks. Former Gov. John Kasich approved that law in 2016, but vetoed a measure that would have banned abortions after six weeks.

In 2019, Gov. Mike DeWine signed the “heartbeat bill” legislation that would have banned abortion as early as six weeks, but it was later blocked from taking effect by a judge.

Opposition to the ordinance

The ACLU of Ohio tweeted Tuesday that they were prepared to mount a legal challenge if the ordinance passed. After the vote passed, they tweeted they were reviewing next steps.

“This hyper-local strategy is another attempt by anti-choice politicians to stigmatize and ban abortion in Ohio, by whatever means necessary,” they said.

Earlier Tuesday, Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio tweeted out a statement in opposition to the ordinance, noting access to abortion is still legal in the state of Ohio.

“Abortion services are already extremely difficult to access for people in Ohio, but these efforts are part of an aggressive, nationwide anti-abortion agenda to do one thing — ban abortion outright,” said Kersha Deibel, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio.

“We will do everything we can to continue to provide safe, legal abortion to the people of Ohio who need it.”

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