The heated discussion in the hallway outside the closed door meeting in Manassas City Hall last night left no doubt that the issue at hand is an attempt to ban abortions. Supporters of women’s health attended the Thursday night meeting of the City Council Economic/Community Development & Land Use Committee as the main issue is a measure that would mimic the anti-reproductive rights measure recently thrust forward by Fairfax City that unfairly targets women’s health facilities. If adopted, ideological city officials would be able to impede abortion clinics from operating in the city through zoning and special use permitting red tape. While under the false guise of being an issue about city spending, the measure is a de facto abortion ban at the local level.
The backdoor attempt to block access to reproductive health care are no less offensive or burdensome than the radical restrictions designed to shut down women’s health centers and extreme personhood legislation at the state level. The effort in Manassas, while more crafty and less blatant, this attempt is as damaging to comprehensive reproductive health care than mandatory ultrasounds, 24-hour wait periods, and disingenuous crisis pregnancy centers.
While the outcome of the meeting was in effect to delay any action, the issue is far from over. On February 3 the measure will again be discussed by the city officials without any comment from the public. Even if they do not allow women’s health advocates to be heard, it couldn’t be more important for us to make our presence felt. No level of government should restrict women’s access to constitutionally protected reproductive health care, from birth control to abortion.