MANATEE COUNTY, FL – Manatee County commissioners narrowly agreed to plans to seek legal advice from Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody on introducing local abortion restrictions in the county.
In a 4-3 vote at its Tuesday meeting, the Board of County Commissioners approved the submission of a letter penned by Commissioner James Satcher – a Conservative minister who originally inspired his pro-life initiatives from Texas’ so-called Heartbeat Bill . before the district board in June – to the attorney general.
In his letter, Satcher wrote that the commissioners “have a desire to establish Manatee County as a ‘safe haven’ for developing children who are in the womb”. (Read his full letter below.)
Although Satcher wrote the letter, the draft attached to the meeting’s agenda indicated that it would be signed by all seven board members.
District attorney William Clague will also draft a letter, more focused on the case law and legal concerns, that will accompany the Commissioners’ letter to Moody.
Commissioners Vanessa Baugh, George Kruse, Kevin Van Ostenbridge and Satcher voted to send the letters to the Attorney General, while Commissioners Reggie Bellamy, Misty Servia and Carol Whitmore voted against the measure.
Whitmore and Servia were concerned about the professionalism of Satcher’s letter and tried, but failed, to table an amended motion to only send Clague’s letter to Moody asking for legal advice.
Referring to the county’s support to protect “preborn and born animals,” Satcher wrote in his letter to the Attorney General, “Turtle nests, turtle eggs, and pups are just a few of the animals that are protected in Manatee County.”
He also spoke about the advancement of medical technology and science, noting that “Blood tests, DNA, ultrasound and neonatal intensive care have changed the modern understanding of the development, autonomy and viability of a developing fetus”.
The commissioner also cited the accomplishments of well-known figures such as Oprah Winfrey, Abraham Lincoln and John Paul DeJoria as a reason to introduce local abortion restrictions.
Servia said the letter appeared “more like lobbying” and encouraged Satcher to send it to state and national leaders with his personal letterhead.
“I just don’t think it’s appropriate to send that type of letter to the attorney general,” she said. “I mean, they will be talking about the legality of problems and the case law, not the opinions of how a local government should develop a regulation.”
Whitmore said the letter also contained several errors.
“The letter is incorrect. It says, ‘in the womb’. There is no uterus, there is a uterus,” she said.
Satcher’s letter also incorrectly states that the county set up a grant to help groups working with pregnant women, Whitmore said.
“That’s not true,” she said, noting that the county board only approved this financial support once and the board was still unsure of the amount.
Later in the discussion on the subject, during an emotional moment, Whitmore, a Republican leader, emerged as an advocate and shared her own experiences of abortion after a non-consensual relationship in 1973.
She was only 17 then, lived alone in an apartment on Anna Maria Island, worked in a nursing home, attended high school and lived with depression, she said. “This was not so easy.”
She added, “I can’t sit up here a minute more without telling you what a horrific experience it was, but I’m still up for a choice.”
Bellamy does not endorse either Satcher or Clague’s letter to the Attorney General for review, saying that “a local ban on abortion is manifestly unconstitutional”.
“I need to make sure it’s clear that these things should be addressed at the state level, not here in Manatee County,” he said.
He expressed concern that adopting abortion restrictions could be costly to the county if it resulted in litigation. Instead, he suggested that the county board focus funding on infrastructure, affordable housing, animal shelters, libraries, homelessness, the pandemic, rainwater problems, and veterans issues.
“These are local issues here in Manatee County that are within our immediate reach that we should of course focus on because that is something that we could definitely do something about,” said Bellamy.
He also stressed that “women deserve the right to speak for themselves,” adding that “a man should make sure he understands all of the things women’s bodies go through before starting and taking.” identifies what a woman should do with her body. “
Do you like what you read? Invite a friend to subscribe to the free Bradenton newsletter and real-time email notifications.
Van Ostenbridge said Satcher wrote “a very nice letter.
He added, “I just want to remind everyone that this is a letter. It is a letter and a letter to the Attorney General who, Commissioner Bellamy, is a woman. The letter will not cost us any money. … That addresses some of the concerns I heard up here. “
Meanwhile, Baugh asked the commissioners, “If you are really for life, how can you fret over a letter for information?”
Kruse said he expects the state to eventually address the abortion issue, making Manatee County’s consideration of local ordinance an “unnecessary step.” In any case, he fully supports the issue, he said.
Satcher said his pro-life initiative was “close and dear to him” as his wife leads a ministry that works with women in “difficult situations”. However, he stressed that it was not inspired by his religion.
“I put so much emphasis on technology, on science, on our ability, on our desire to protect animals, so I put it on because I don’t want people to say, ‘Oh, it’s just a religious thing ‘”Satcher said.” No, it’s just life. Those are people. I don’t want it to be inferred that there is some kind of judgment. There is only salvation and grace in everyone’s future. “
Read Commissioner James Satcher’s full letter to the Attorney General below: