Southeast Bakersfield

City Council rejects anti-abortion ordinance, resolution

City Council rejects anti-abortion ordinance, resolution »Play Video

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) - People on both sides of the abortion debate voiced their concerns before the Bakersfield City Council on Wednesday evening.

The issue: whether the city should adopt an ordinance that would restrict abortions in the city, as proposed by pro-life advocates.

The City Council also could consider adopting a resolution that commended organizations that advocate and educate the public about alternatives to abortion.

But, in a surprise result, the council members voted 5-2 to drop the issue altogether. The issue could be brought back for consideration, but only if four of the seven council members voted to resurrect the issue.

The topic brought strong emotional pleas from both sides of the debate.

"I pray that you guys make the right decision in your hearts. These babies don't deserve death," said speaker Vanessa Galvan. 

Those with differing views were just as passionate.

"I do not believe it is the City Council's place to impose religious perspectives of a very vocal and a very emotional manipulative minority," said Rafaella Renati, a local university student.

City attorney Ginny Gennaro said if the council adopted an ordinance, it would expose the city to a lawsuit. Several council members said that while they personally opposed abortion, they had a fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers.

Ward 1 councilman Willie Rivera said the council was not the proper forum to address restricting abortion.

The issue was brought before the council by local anti-abortion activist Tim Palmquist of Life Saver Ministries.

Palmquist said the council vote was "a slap in the face" to the people of Bakersfield.

"We were wrong," said Palmquist after the vote. "We thought the City Council was pro-life."