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San Diego County Supervisors vote 3-1 for reproductive freedom resolution

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Posted at 2:53 PM, Sep 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-14 17:53:03-04

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - After a lengthy and at times contentious public hearing, the Board of Supervisors voted 3-1 Tuesday to declare San Diego County a "champion of reproductive freedom."

As proposed by Supervisor Nora Vargas, the resolution calls for the county to "serve as a model and commit to defend and fight for reproductive freedom, and welcome all those seeking to fully exercise their reproductive rights and access safe legal abortion."

According to the resolution, "nearly 600 pieces of legislation attacking access to safe legal abortions and women's rights were introduced around the nation this year alone, it is clear we must act to protect these hard fought rights."

Vargas, board Chairman Nathan Fletcher and Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer voted in favor of the resolution. Supervisor Jim Desmond was opposed, while Joel Anderson was absent due to an illness, according to a spokeswoman.

In a statement via email, Desmond said such a resolution was "politically divisive" and "a matter for the courts, not the county Board of Supervisors.

"We have no authority on abortion," Desmond said. "I have opposed and will continue to oppose items that are not county business."

Fletcher -- whose wife, state Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher (D-San Diego), underwent breast cancer surgery over the weekend -- participated via teleconference.

The county resolution comes after the Texas state legislature passed a controversial law that bans abortions after six weeks.

Vargas, a former executive at Planned Parenthood of the Southwest, said access to health care also includes the right to an abortion.

As some audience members began booing, Vargas -- the board vice chairwoman who was overseeing Tuesday's meeting -- banged the gavel and reminded opponents that they needed to behave or they would be removed from board chambers. "You have a choice -- you can stay or you can go," she told audience members.

Desmond then told the audience, "Hey, come on -- let her finish."

The board's vote came after a two-hour-plus public hearing in which only four of 80 speakers were in favor of the resolution. Most cited religious opposition to abortion, while proponents said it was up to a woman to decide when to become a parent.

More than a few opponents have previously called out the board for various mandates and health orders in connection to the COVID-19 pandemic. Others criticized Vargas for her connection to Planned Parenthood, and accused the organization of racism.

Melanie Burkholder, a Republican running for a state Assembly District 76 seat, said such a resolution is not needed in light of more serious social and economic challenges the county faces.

"This is clearly political grandstanding," said Burkholder, who added that there isn't any problem with abortion access in San Diego County.

Judith Howell, of the abortion rights group Run Women Run, thanked Vargas for sponsoring the resolution.

"The community is rooting for you and this resolution," Howell said, adding that abortion bans harm communities that already lack health care.

"Restricting abortion will not stop abortion," Howell said.

The entire county resolution can be read here.