A CLOSER LOOK: Springdale officials to declare city ‘Pro-Life,’ tell Planned Parenthood ‘no thanks’

A Closer Look

Springdale officials hope "Pro-Life City" status will discourage Planned Parenthood from coming to Springdale.

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SPRINGDALE, Ark. (KNWA) — Springdale officials plan to declare their city a “Pro-Life City” and let abortion clinics such as Planned Parenthood know that they would rather not have them there.

“We’re not trying to stir the pot. We are respectfully asking them to reconsider a location. It’s not a legally binding resolution that would prevent them from coming. We are simply asking them to reconsider,” said City Councilman Colby Fulfer, who put forth the resolution during Monday’s City Council Committee meeting.

The committee, which is made up of City Council members, voted unanimously to forward the resolution to next Tuesday’s City Council meeting with a recommendation for approval.

“This changes no law; it just expresses the desires of our city council to promote life,” said Mayor Doug Sprouse. “That’s not only talking about unborn life, that’s also talking about our seniors and everyone in between, and we demonstrate that already as a city in what we do through our CDBG program with housing rehab. It’s about quality of life for our residents including the unborn, and the council wanted to make that statement.”

Planned Parenthood, a clinic that performed abortions, closed down in Fayetteville when the owner of the building chose not to renew the clinic’s lease.

“This is something that came about in the past few weeks when we were made aware that an abortion provider was looking at locations in Springdale,” Fulfer said. “What we decided to do was put this resolution forward that points out that we are pro-life in the sense that we believe in life all the way from the beginning to the end.”

Jess Kelsey, communications and digital strategy specialist for Planned Parenthood, would not specifically comment on either Springdale’s “Pro-Life City” resolution or whether Planned Parenthood is pursuing a location in Springdale.

“Planned Parenthood Great Plains remains committed to providing comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care to patients in Northwest Arkansas and we’ll announce when we’re prepared to reopen,” Kelsey said in a statement she sent through email.

Sprouse said he has heard of other cities in the United States that has passed similar resolutions; he mentioned a city in Texas as being one such city. An online search found that no Texas city made a pro-life declaration without banning abortion in that city. However, Waskom, Texas, a city that borders Louisiana, in June declared itself a sanctuary for the unborn and banned abortion, according to FoxNews.com.

Officials in Verona, Italy, defied Italy’s abortion law in October 2018 and voted to pass a motion approving numerous pro-life policies, including an official declaration that Verona is a “Pro-Life City.” The policies also included public funding for anti-abortion groups, according to THE LOCAL it website.

Various provinces and cities in Argentina in August 2018 made official pro-life declarations.

“Legislatures in the Tucumán province, and in the cities of Concordia, San Salvador de Jujuy, Presidencia Roque Sáenz Peña, San Fernando del Valle de Catamarca, and others, all voted in favor of issuing decrees that they are pro-life municipalities,” according to Bustle.com.

Both Sprouse and Fulfer said city officials can write resolutions that are not legally binding.

“This is more of a statement of conscience, and it certainly is within the council’s right to do that,” Sprouse said. “Cities pass resolutions all the time. We passed a resolution in support of other things, the online sales tax, Washington County expanding their jail. There are areas that we don’t have any say in the laws that dictate, but I think the council believes they reflect our community and those that put them in office and that’s why they supported this.”

Fulfer said the resolution is a respectful way of dealing with the issue.

“I think one of the greatest things that we are missing in our culture today and even in politics is respect and the ability for people on both sides [who have] different opinions to come together and have a conversation about it,” he said.

Fulfer said that discouraging a Planned Parenthood clinic from coming to Springdale does not prevent the issue from being debated in the city.

“Because Planned Parenthood could still come to Springdale. We are not preventing anybody from doing what the Supreme Court has said they can. We are not preventing that. We are respectfully asking,” Fulfer said.

Sprouse said if Planned Parenthood officially attempted to become a clinic in Springdale he believes that City Council members would vote according to Supreme Court law and not their own personal beliefs.

“They would be bound and governed by the same laws that would apply to anyone else,” Sprouse said.

Fulfer would not say how he would vote if such a situation arose.

“I’d have to see exactly what their proposal was and go from there,” Fulfer said.

Making Springdale a “Pro-Life City” does not set the stage for protests if a Planned Parenthood clinic were to come to Springdale because the resolution “respectfully” discourages such a clinic from coming to Springdale, Fulfer said.

“If there’s no clinic here there would be nothing to protest,” Fulfer said.

Sprouse said city officials are not trying to shame city residents who had abortions by passing the resolution.

“I would say that’s not the intention of this resolution. We serve all of our residents, we respect all of our residents. This is just a resolution that supports choices in the future that take into account a life that has already been created,” Sprouse said.

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