A year's debate over the city's position on abortion could culminate Wednesday with a Bakersfield City Council vote on an anti-abortion resolution that's sure to generate fervent discussion.
Fervent because the proposed resolution, which commends "organizations that advocate for and educate the public about the alternatives to abortions... ," has made enemies on both sides of the issue.
Not only do abortion rights supporters oppose the resolution but so does Ward 6 Councilwoman Jacquie Sullivan, who would rather see passage of a more restrictive Human Life ordinance.
The Legislative and Litigation Committee, which comprises three city council members including Sullivan, voted to table the Human Life ordinance this spring after the city attorney warned its passage would expose the city to lawsuits.
The committee drafted and approved 2-1, with Sullivan dissenting, the more watered down resolution going to the full council Wednesday. Sullivan said she will continue to oppose the resolution unless changes are made.
Members of Pro-Choice Kern County are expected to stand with the Democratic Women of Kern against the resolution, which Pro-Choice co-founder Jennifer Smith said she views as the opening salvo of a local attack on Roe vs. Wade.
Sullivan said she wants resolution wording reading, "Whereas, the City of Bakersfield respects and honors all viewpoints, religions, and creeds ..." changed -- replacing "respects and honors" with the less reverential "recognizes."
The councilwoman said she also wants another "Whereas" added to the resolution reading, "Whereas the City of Bakersfield respects all human beings, including those who reside in the womb ... "
"This is all about respecting and honoring all human life. Not honoring all creeds and all viewpoints ... ," Sullivan said. "We have Wicca, there are a lot of things around, and I will recognize them, but I won't honor and respect them. And they don't honor and respect my perspective, but I have the right to exist."
Smith said she thinks anti-abortion advocates are trying to divide the Bakersfield City Council.
"It's pretty obvious to me that this is a wedge that they're going to drive into the city council, in order to continue their agenda, and that agenda is to ban abortion in Bakersfield," Smith said. "They're going to start small and work up to try to overturn Roe vs. Wade. We want to stop that."
Residents closest to the Human Life ordinance also oppose the resolution.
"The pro-abortion people don't like it, and neither do we. It would be nice if they could throw it out and just start over again," said Terri Palmquist, chairwoman of LifeSavers Ministries, whose husband, Tim, has drafted five versions of an ordinance restricting abortion in Bakersfield.
The ordinance tabled in May would have placed "Restrictions on Termination of Human Life," according to its title, making it "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."
In the ordinance's latest version, Tim Palmquist made changes including altering its title to read "Killing Human Life For Consideration."
But in an administrative report provided to the council Friday, City Attorney Ginny Gennaro reiterated her opinion that "all submitted versions of the proposed ordinance will expose the City to litigation."