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Tallahassee Commission to Support Abortion Right with Restricted Vote


Despite a wave of criticism that slightly outweighed support, Tallahassee city commissioners narrowly passed a resolution urging state lawmakers to protect and promote access to reproductive health care, including abortion.

Commissioners approved the resolution 3-2, supported by Mayor John Dailey and Commissioners Jeremy Matlow and Jack Porter. Commissioners Dianne Williams-Cox and Curtis Richardson voted against.

The final resolution will reflect the vote count and which Commissioners were in favor.

But it will likely fall on many deaf ears when he crosses Pensacola Street from City Hall to Capitol Hill: the leadership of the Republican-controlled Legislature has already signaled it will consider some form of ban. of abortion similar to a Texas law that prohibits abortion as early as six weeks after the onset of a pregnancy.

Learn more about plans to limit abortion in Florida:

Although the resolution is only ambitious, it still generated a lot of opposition to the city’s elected leaders taking such a public stance. More than 30 people provided public comments for and against.

One person even promised to boycott Matlow’s Gaines Street Pies pizza chain if he backed it up. Matlow nonetheless voted in favor, saying Tallahassee “joins 10 other Florida cities in asserting a woman’s right to choose.”

Tallahassee City Commissioner Dianne Williams-Cox on the dais in a 2020 file photo.

Williams-Cox said she doesn’t know why the city is even getting into the abortion fray. The city, she said, should focus on upholding the right to self-reliance and shaping meaningful policy with local impact. She later added that what she does with her body is a choice for her and her husband.

“We are out of our way,” she said. “We should not be dealing with this problem. This is a legislative matter. Let the legislature deal with it.

The resolution states that its intention is to “protect and strengthen the right of Florida citizens to reproductive health care, including abortion,” and included language that “abortion is a constitutional right and remains legal in the 50 states ”. It notes efforts at the state level to “pass laws restricting access to abortion, including restricting young people’s access to abortion care and funding anti-abortion pregnancy centers.”

It was tabled at the last meeting of the Commission. Since then it has been amended to say that the resolution was supported by the commissioners and the mayor, and not by the city of Tallahassee.

Mayor John Dailey listens to a speaker during an ARC meeting at City Hall on Thursday, September 9, 2021.

Opponent Andrew Shirvell called the resolution “extremely confrontational”, adding that the commissioners “will bear all the consequences”.

Shirvell, founder and executive director of Florida Voice for the Unborn and registered state lobbyist, also called out Matlow, saying that a yes vote on his part “would initiate a pro-life citizen boycott of his pizza business … We will. make an example of it. “

Others were fiery in their feelings about the abortion and whether the measure was even necessary.

Pam Olsen, Founder of the Florida Prayer Network

“This resolution in favor of abortion that you are proposing is not at all wise and is completely unnecessary,” said Pam Olsen, founder of the Florida Prayer Network. “Our country has seen nearly 65 million babies murdered since abortion was legalized. Think of it as you think of this resolution.

Others denounced considering abortion as reproductive health care.

“Abortion is the only medical procedure that has a death rate of 100%,” said Tony Ciarlariello. “This is not health care, it is a crime against humanity. Each abortion ends the life of a genetically distinct human being.

One supporter told a personal story of how access to abortion during a failed pregnancy may have preserved her ability to have children.

Alice Ball said she had to have her fallopian tubes removed due to complications three years ago after struggling to have an abortion locally.

“I deserve to be a mom,” she said. “I deserve health care. I deserve the right to do what’s right for my body.

The measure has won the support of Equality Florida, which represents the state’s LGBT + community. Jon Harris Maurer, its director of public policy, urged commissioners to endorse the resolution.

It is “the absence of government intrusion into our most intimate decisions,” Harris told commissioners. “Whether this decision is about who can get together to form a family or how, when and where you form a family, these are personal freedoms that must be exercised without undue interference by the state.”

Contact Karl Etters at [email protected] or @KarlEtters on Twitter.

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