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City of Celina Grappling With Abortion

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Ultrasound | Michael Fürstenberg

A proposed ordinance to declare Celina a “sanctuary city for the unborn” is eliciting strong reactions from both sides of the aisle. 

Language of the Ordinance

Proposed ordinance 51-21-O seeks to ban abortions within the city of Celina, where there are no abortion-providing facilities at this time. 

The ordinance defines abortion as a “violent act” involving “using or prescribing an instrument, a drug, a medicine, or any other substance, device, or means with the intent to cause the death of an unborn child of a woman known to be pregnant,” noting that human life begins at conception. 

The proposed legislation allows exceptions for any pregnancy-induced threat to the life of the pregnant woman. The ordinance also explicitly states that an individual who has had or is seeking an abortion in the city of Celina be “subject to prosecution or penalty.”

51-21-O stipulates that any form of assistance in obtaining an abortion within the city of Celina also be unlawful. This includes transportation, giving instructions for self-administered abortion, providing funds, abortion doula services and coercing someone to get an abortion. This applies only to an abortion being performed within the city of Celina. 

Although the Supreme Court legalized abortion in 1973, the ordinance states that “[m]any in the City of Celina believe The Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v Wade […], was wrongly decided […] without basis in the Constitution.”

Ordinance 51-21-O is proposed as an emergency measure “necessary for the immediate preservation of the public health, safety, morals and welfare of the city of Celina, Ohio.”

City Council addresses the issue and opens floor to community

Although Celina City Council has previously voted down the ordinance, another council meeting focused on the ordinance was held on Monday, Nov. 8. 

The ordinance appears to be prompted by the efforts of Created Equal, an organization that labels itself on social media as “community service” and which is based in Columbus, Ohio. 

A video was posted to the Created Equal page prior to the city council meeting. Created Equal founder interviewed Celina resident and former pastor Mike Spencer, who later spoke during the meeting. Harrington commented that Celina city council president Jason King has been “a great champion for the unborn.” 

Harrington and Spencer said while Celina is “not a real target” for abortion-providing facilities, the ordinance is a “preventative measure” and they hope will have a “ripple effect” on laws across the country. 

Spencer compared the pro-life work to the anti-racist work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

In total, 29 community members spoke at the council meeting. Fourteen women and 9 men spoke in support of the ordinance.  

Spencer spoke out in support of the ordinance, closing his speech the following: 

“You have been told, as men, you have no right to speak to the issue. I’m a little stunned that anybody would bring that argument to you because it is a sexist argument,” Spencer said. 

Celina resident Matt Driggs said that over 650 residents of Celina signed a petition supporting the passage of the ordinance. 

“Put your personal feelings and concerns aside and do what you have been elected to do and represent Celina’s residents,” Driggs said to the council. “Do what’s right in God’s eyes.”

Many similar Christian religious sentiments were expressed by supporters of the ordinance. 

Four women and two men spoke against the ordinance. 

Mark Uhlenhake spoke against the proposed ordinance. 

“I respect both opinions. I don’t believe this issue should be in city council. We’ve got a lot of other issues in this city,” Uhlenhake said, commenting on potholes in Celina streets. 

Uhlenhake said that although he believes the majority of Celina is pro-life, legal abortion is the law of the land, and it is not urgent that Celina city council try to tackle this contentious issue.

Zoe Kriegel spoke on behalf of a foster child who was sexually assaulted and molested as a child who opposes the ordinance and supported abortion as a life-saving option for girls who are victims of sexual assault. 

“If I would have ended up pregnant I could have died carrying a child as a 12-year-old. That could have messed up my mentality and caused more life-long trauma […] They wanna make Celina a sanctuary city for the preborn. They don’t [care] about the people already living,” Kriegel read. 

Kriegel closed her statements by noting that abortion is currently legal in all of Ohio and that the Heartbeat Bill, which aims to prevent most abortions in Ohio, has been deemed unconstitutional and unenforceable. 

Local Students in Support 

First-year Lake Campus education students Hanna Metzger of Fort Recovery and Kelli Homan of Maria Stein, both within half an hour of Celina, were not aware of the ordinance but support the idea. 

“I’m for it. I think it’s really interesting,” said Metzger. 

Given the demographics of the area, they both feel that the ordinance would not have a large impact. 

“I feel like people around here are very pro-life,” Homan said. 

Homan supports the sanctuary city efforts and hopes that if Celina passes the ordinance, it will encourage other towns to do the same. 

“I think it will spread, and like, you know, in another city it’ll happen too, and then another, so I think it’s important in a way. I think it’s good,” Homan said.

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