By Daniel Correia
City Council members adopted a resolution at their Jan. 23 meeting that officially declares Santa Cruz a “pro-choice city.” The resolution adds Santa Cruz to a growing list of communities in the Pro-Choice City Campaign, a national effort advocating abortion and reproductive healthcare services.
In a 5-2 vote, the council took a strong position supporting women’s right to choose, believing their statement to represent the majority of Santa Cruzan’s sentiments on the issue.
Councilmember Cynthia Mathews said she proposed the resolution to make Santa Cruz a pro-choice city for many reasons including the 34th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.
“Taking this stance represents the major sentiment of the community that we want on record,” Mathews said. “It’s not just about abortion, but a broad range of reproductive healthcare issues. There’s never really a time where these are not important issues. It’s always on the front-burner.”
Yet others believe that the City Council was wrong in making such a decision on behalf of all Santa Cruz citizens, including the town’s pro-life advocates. Council members Lynn Robinson and Ed Porter accounted for the two votes against the resolution.
“Does that mean I’m not pro-choice? No, that’s not the point,” Porter said. “We didn’t need to do it and there was no good reason to do it other than to make people angry. Abortion is just as legal now as it was before we did this, no more, no less.”
Pro-life activists, including Gera Schmidt of the Santa Cruz organization Voice for the Voiceless, are especially disappointed in the council’s decision.
“This is advocating a gruesome and cruel victimization of human life that could be sustained outside the womb if they didn’t kill it,” Schmidt said. “The womb is the most dangerous place to live in the United States.”
Though members of the City Council acknowledged that there was some opposition to the decision, they felt that the move supported the beliefs of the majority of the city’s citizens.
“The demand that we speak for everybody or shut up is ridiculous. We know we’re not representing everybody in town, we’re representing the majority,” said Councilmember Mike Rotkin, who voted in favor of the resolution. “It’s a little disingenuous to say that the city shouldn’t get in the middle of it, that it should be a personal issue, when it’s the right of the individual to make a choice that’s under attack.”