BRISTOL (LifeSiteNews) – A city council in Virginia is working to ban abortion facilities in city limits, following the arrival of an abortion center that had just moved to the city to evade the pro-life laws of neighboring Tennessee.
The Tennessee Lookout reports that the Bristol City Council voted 5-0 Tuesday to pass a zoning resolution banning the new construction of any facility that “intentionally causes(s) the death or termination of a pre-born human life at any stage of development,” as well as forbidding the expansion or renovation of any existing abortion facilities. It will require several more steps to become law.
The move is part of a backlash against the July arrival of Bristol Women’s Health Center, an abortion facility, which for 30 years had been in Bristol, Tennessee near the Virginia border. The center left Tennessee in response to the state’s heartbeat law taking effect, which effectively shut down the abortion industry in the Volunteer State.
“Bristol, Virginia has been a ‘good place to live’ and residents simply want to ensure that it remains so, for both born and unborn community members,” the pro-life Family Foundation of Virginia said in a statement.
There remains some question as to whether localities may legally use zoning laws to keep out the abortion industry; city attorney Randall Eads is researching the matter and says he will present his conclusions at a November 15 council meeting.
Bristol Councilmember Kevin Wingard, who believes this is “the most important issue” city leaders have ever dealt with, believes the question is straightforward. “The state does not dictate what every local district does,” he says. “City Council has full authority to stop other abortion clinics from coming here.”
While the U.S. Supreme Court’s June overturn of Roe v. Wade represented an enormous victory for the pro-life movement, allowing for pro-life laws to take effect in numerous states, the issue remains far from resolved. National Democrats support both codifying a right to abortion in federal law and promoting interstate travel from abortion-free states to abortion-friendly ones, to get around pro-life laws.
Pro-life groups such as the Thomas More Society and the National Association of Christian Lawmakers are currently exploring potential policies to counteract the problem, though any state-level response will likely face difficult legal challenges. Regardless, pro-lifers say the problem highlights the need for abortion bans in states that don’t yet have them, and for settling the issue in every state by eventually passing a federal ban.