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Abortion opponents crowded the Council Chambers on Sept. 24

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FARMINGTON — The Farmington City Council instructed city staff to draft a resolution expressing support for human life — including opposition to abortion.

The resolution came after constituents contacted Councilor Sean Sharer asking if the City Council could consider a resolution making Farmington a sanctuary city for the unborn.

A sanctuary city is a place where federal or state laws are not enforced. It is generally used to refer to cities that do not enforce federal immigration laws, however it has also been used to refer to cities or counties that are not enforcing newly-passed gun legislation.

Farmington will not be considering a sanctuary city for the unborn resolution. Instead, it will consider a resolution expressing support of human life. The Farmington City Council plans to consider the resolution during its Oct. 8 meeting.

Earlier this year, Lea County Commission passed a resolution expressing opposition to abortion. Sharer distributed copies of the Lea County resolution to the other city councilors as an example of what he wants the City of Farmington to consider.

"At the City of Farmington level, we can't abolish abortion," Sharer said.

However, he asked for a resolution that would state Farmington's opposition to abortion and desire to protect unborn children.

There are not currently any facilities in Farmington that provide abortion, however there are facilities that provide abortion referrals.

"They are our children and they need to be protected because they are our children," Mayor Nate Duckett said. "It just kind of seems ridiculous that we politicize something that deals with the value of human life, which we all need to take more value in."

Duckett suggested broadening the resolution to express support for all human life. He recommended including opportunities to value each other, relationships and "what we mean to one another." 

Sharer brought up the possibility of drafting a resolution during the time of the City Council meeting set aside for councilors to bring new business to the City Council. It was not listed on the agenda and the City Council did not take action on a resolution on Sept. 24.

San Juan County Democratic Party Chairwoman MP Schildmeyer listened to the meeting online after learning about the pending resolution.

She said the City Council resolution can have no legal effect and she questioned the purpose of drafting such a resolution.

"It can only serve to further divide," Schildmeyer said.

She said the City Council should be focused on actions to make the town more attractive to future taxpayers.

"I don't believe people want to move to places where there is constant divisiveness," Schildmeyer said.

Schildmeyer said there are many people in San Juan County, including in the City of Farmington, who do not share Sharer's views on abortion. She said some of them will likely attend the Oct. 8 meeting.

Although the item was not listed on the agenda, a crowd gathered in the City Council Chambers. When the City Council instructed the staff to draft the resolution, the audience cheered.

The meeting can be viewed online at fmtn.org. 

After the meeting, Farmington resident Lori Estrada said she has spent 35 years trying to fight abortion within Farmington. 

She said children are gifts from God.

"We have to fight for them because no one else will," she said. "They are a gift from God."

Estrada said the resolution will be a step toward shutting down Planned Parenthood of Farmington.

The Farmington's Planned Parenthood does not offer abortion, and Schildmeyer said it is one of the few places women can receive low-cost reproductive health care with no questions asked.

Planned Parenthood of Farmington has recently relocated to a new building on 20th Street, a short distance from its previous location. Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains Strategic Communications Manager Neta Meltzer said that while the location has changed, the clinic will not be adding new services.

"At Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, we understand that access to health care is a human right, and that includes access to the full spectrum of sexual and reproductive health care, including abortion care," Meltzer said in response to the resolution being drafted. "Access to health care should never depend on one's zip code. As always, we remain committed to delivering the highest quality health care to the Farmington community, which we have proudly served since 1980."

Aimee Georgina also attended the meeting to show her opposition to abortion.

"I believe that all life should be respected and cherished," she said.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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