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Mason's new City Council votes 6-1 to repeal abortion ban

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Mason City Council (screenshot of Dec. 13, 2021 meeting)
Mason City Council voted 6-1 to repeal the city's abortion ban during a meeting Monday evening.

Mason's new City Council on Monday voted to repeal an abortion ban the last council approved in October.

Council voted 6-1 with Council Member Kathy Grossmann being the lone opposing vote. Residents voted for council members during November elections. Monday was the new council's first meeting.

The ban prohibited abortions from being performed in Mason, despite there currently being no abortion providers in the city. It made abortion a first-degree misdemeanor crime within its city limits but did not prohibit people from seeking legal abortion elsewhere.

Mayor Barbara Spaeth questioned the reasoning for the ordinance before she placed her vote.

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Mason City Council (screenshot from Dec. 13, 2021 meeting)
"Cities cannot enforce private rights of actions," Mayor Barbara Spaeth said before voting to repeal the ordinance.

"Cities cannot enforce private rights of actions," Spaeth said. "The state has the broader authority. There are too many legal questions and as many citizens have said, it is not a local government job to legislate state and federal laws."

Grossmann said she supported the ordinance because if the city could legally provide a "deterrent" to make it more difficult for an abortion provider to set up in Mason, it would benefit the city.

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Mason City Council (screenshot from Dec. 13, 2021 meeting)
Council member Kathy Grossmann supported the ordinance because she believes making it more difficult for an abortion provider to set up in Mason would benefit the city.

"Even though I am pro-life and I believe that legal protection should be provided for the unborn, that they are entitled to it, it's their God given right and our Constitution supports that."

Grossmann is running for state representative in 2022 and began using her support of "sanctuary cities for the unborn" as a point on her campaign literature before the issue passed locally.

Vice Mayor Diana Nelson voted to repeal the abortion ban, saying it was against federal law and the city charter.

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Mason City Council (screenshot from Dec. 13, 2021 meeting)
"I am not voting on a pro-choice or a pro-life issue," Vice Mayor Diana Nelson said before casting a vote in favor of repealing the city's abortion ban.

"I am not voting on a pro-choice or a pro-life issue," Nelson said. "This has nothing to do with abortion. Mason passed an ordinance that cannot be enforced. The city of Mason will get sued and when it does, it is the taxpayers here in Mason and our businesses that will pay the price."

Mason became the second city in Ohio to make such a move after Lebanon's City Council in May unanimously voted for an ordinance that prohibits abortion and abortion providers from setting up shop in the city.

It's not just Ohio cities that are taking up the controversial issue of abortion.

Last week, the Ohio House of Representatives approved a bill that would make doctors criminally liable when a baby is born alive following an abortion attempt. Under this bill, doctors could be charged with a felony and pay fines if they fail to provide medical care to an infant born as the result of a botched abortion.

And last Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court refused for a second time to block a Texas law that halts abortions for anyone more than six weeks pregnant.

Watch the full meeting below.

Cory Sharber attended Murray State University majoring in journalism and political science and comes to Cincinnati Public Radio from NPR Member station WKMS.