Farmington City Council votes 3-2 to withdraw resolution opposing abortion
A crowd overflowed the City Council chambers to hear the decision about the resolution
FARMINGTON — In a split decision, the Farmington City Council voted to withdraw a resolution supporting human life starting at conception from the agenda during its Oct. 8 meeting.
Mayor Nate Duckett cast the tie-breaking vote after making a statement that he did not feel the City Council was the right venue for such a resolution.
The resolution was drafted following a request by Councilor Sean Sharer last month. Sharer had initially asked for a resolution in opposition to abortion, however that resolution was expanded to include all human life.
“This is about all human life, the born and the unborn,” Sharer said at the start of the meeting. “The children, the elderly and the homeless. I wanted to write something that we could all be proud of.”
He acknowledged that not everyone in the community would agree with every word in the resolution, especially in regards to abortion. However, he said the resolution was a call to action for the community to “feed someone who is hungry, clothe someone who is naked, visit someone who is lonely.”
The crowd that gathered for the meeting overflowed from the council chambers into the lobby by the time Sharer read the resolution out loud.
Duckett said his personal beliefs support the resolution, however he did not feel like it was something the City Council should pass because it would be symbolic. He highlighted that women have the right to choose abortion in the United States and the city does not have jurisdiction over that.
“I’m here to make sure that the budget is used appropriately to benefit our community,” he said.
Councilor Janis Jakino echoed Duckett’s statement after disclosing that she considers herself a pro-life Christian.
“This venue is not the appropriate place to consider this matter,” Jakino said.
Councilor Linda Rodgers said the City Council needs to avoid inserting itself into controversial matters where the city does not have jurisdiction or authority.
Councilor Jeanine Bingham-Kelly voiced support for the resolution. She and Sharer were the only councilors who voted to keep the resolution on the agenda.
Members of legislative delegation express disappointment
State Sen. William Sharer, R-Farmington, said he was proud of his son, Councilor Sharer’s, efforts to get the resolution passed.
“The reason that anti-life people always win is that pro-life (elected) people are cowards,” Sen. Sharer said.
Sharer was one of several members of the San Juan County legislative delegation that attended the Farmington City Council meeting.
Rep. James Strickler, R-Farmington, agreed with Sharer. He said cities like Albuquerque pass resolutions all the time to make political statements.
“If the City of Albuquerque can do it, I think we can too,” Strickler said.
Rep. Rod Montoya, R-Farmington, also expressed disappointment in the City Council’s decision.
“All the problems that we have in New Mexico are because we devalue life,” he said, adding that the state wouldn’t have cases like the murder of Victoria Martens if life was valued.
He said New Mexico has problems with addiction, crime and low graduation rates.
“They all begin with the fact that we devalue life,” he said.
Anti-abortion activists disagree with the City Council decision
Members of Sacred Heart Catholic Church also attended the meeting, including Katelyn Cardenas, the church’s Respect Life coordinator.
“Tonight was a big disappointment and a missed opportunity for our community to be a light in a dark state,” she said.
Matt Strickler said two or three years ago he would have agreed that the City Council was not the appropriate venue for anti-abortion resolutions. However, he said in the context of today’s political climate it is the appropriate venue. He explained that many cities are passing resolutions declaring themselves sanctuaries for undocumented immigrants.
Some audience members expressed relief after the vote
While the majority of the audience opposed abortion and hoped the City Council would pass the resolution, there were several members who said they supported the City Council’s decision to withdraw it from consideration.
“I’m really glad that they chose not to pass something that would have been so divisive in the community,” said Meghan Shea after the meeting.
Hannah Chavers said she was a little scared when she heard the City Council was considering the resolution and she was glad the council chose not to pass it.
“I don’t think it’s their jurisdiction over my body,” she said.
Carmel Martinez echoed Chavers and Shea’s comments and said she felt Duckett did a good job explaining his reasoning.
Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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