Pro-Life Backers Denounce Shelved Reproductive Rights Resolution
A shelved Fresno City Council proposal supporting reproductive rights inspired more than 100 people to attend a pro-life rally at the steps of City Hall on Tuesday morning.
“We ain’t backing down. We’ll never back down. We’ll just double down and triple down and we’ll be here every single time they want to play this game,” said Fresno City Councilman Garry Bredefeld, the rally’s organizer.
For two city council meetings in a row, councilmembers Miguel Arias and Esmeralda Soria placed an item on the agenda in draft form “declaring the city of Fresno a defender of reproductive freedom.” Before the agenda went to print for the Jan. 27 and Feb. 10 meetings, the item was removed.
Mayor Jerry Dyer vowed to veto the pro-choice resolution it is adopted by the city council. He said it has no business being discussed by a municipal government.
“Bringing forth a resolution declaring Fresno as a defender of the right to reproductive freedom is not what the people want from their local government. This resolution won’t add one job, repair a single street, make our neighborhoods safer, or help us reduce our homeless population. No. This council resolution is designed to do one thing — to divide this community and to tear this community apart,” Dyer said.
Later, Dyer added, “My love for a baby’s life, a fetus, is one that is a hill to die on for me.”
Planned Parenthood Behind the Resolution
Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, located in Fresno, said it asked Arias and Soria to carry the resolution.
“It’s definitely disappointing because abortion is health care,” said Socorro Santillan, a Fresno Planned Parenthood spokeswoman. “Fresno could have the opportunity to model and to commit to defending our rights for reproductive freedom.. … We hope that this is not the end of it and that maybe in the future, our city council is more open to supporting such a resolution.”
Santillan pushed back on Dyer’s statement that reproductive rights are not an issue for the city council.
“This is a service that is provided in our city and that has value. We provide a medical need that is needed by individuals and that’s taken,” Santillan said. “We need to assure that folks know that this is a service that the city will defend and will protect, regardless of what other states are doing.”
Several Speakers, but Only One Woman
The speaker list included elected representatives, pro-life advocates, and religious leaders.
Diane Pearce, president of the Fresno County and City Republican Women Federated was the only woman to speak.
“It is unconscionable to brag about being a champion of destroying the most defenseless and innocent among us. If there is any hope for One Fresno, these divisive policy proposals and the council members who propose them must be unequivocally shut down,” Pearce said.
Bredefeld insinuated that Soria’s support had to do with currying political favor.
“One of these council members is running for the state Assembly and is simply pursuing money from NARAL and other pro-abortion groups. She thinks this resolution will help her in obtaining that money. Frankly, this resolution and the actions of these council members are a complete disgrace,” Bredefeld said.
Soria Responds to Bredefeld
“It is no secret that I have been a longtime advocate for women’s reproductive rights. As a woman, I stand with thousands of other women in our community that care about access to healthcare, including reproductive health. In addition, the city of Fresno has taken steps to support women’s health numerous times. That isn’t news. It is unfortunate that one of my colleagues is using this to get attention and throw around bizarre accusations,” Soria texted GV Wire.
During her 2020 congressional campaign, Soria did not receive any campaign contributions from pro-choice groups, FEC records show.
Arias said he pulled the item because of two heavy agendas. He said that he’s unsure if it will return.
“It is obvious that women’s rights and voting rights are under unprecedented attack and it is everyone’s business including ours.” Arias said. “This week, there are very important items before the council including how we invest $170 million dollars to rebuild Fresno. Spending time responding to potential items not on the council agenda or organizing political rallies is not the best use of time for a city in a housing and homeless crisis,” Arias said via text.
Arias also mentioned other times that the city, with Dyer’s blessing, has discussed items not in the direct power of the city’s jurisdiction including PG&E rates, supporting Dreamers, and immigration reform.