ENCINITAS — Three weeks before the November general election, city leaders unanimously endorsed statewide Proposition 1, which seeks to codify a woman’s right to reproductive freedom — including abortion — into the California Constitution.
The Encinitas City Council voted 5-0 last Wednesday in favor of a resolution sponsored by Mayor Catherine Blakespear to voice the city’s support for Proposition 1, despite a majority of public speakers and written comments opposed to the resolution.
“Whereas, the City of Encinitas will continue to uphold the right to privacy, self-determination and liberty by protecting reproductive freedoms and access to health services, welcoming anyone to Encinitas to exercise their full reproductive rights; and now, therefore, be it resolved that the City Council of the City of Encinitas hereby pledges support for Proposition 1 and urges Encinitas voters to vote Yes on Proposition 1 in the November 8, 2022 election,” the resolution reads in part.
Elected officials hailed their decision as sending a strong message to the community regarding the city’s commitment to the pro-choice position.
“The support for abortion, to me, is saying that women have the ability to determine the fundamental direction of their life and that the government will not interfere with that,” Blakespear said. “Being forced into childbirth when someone does not want it, I see that as anathema to the freedoms we hold as Americans and also to women’s ability to try to achieve equality with men.”
Councilman Joe Mosca seconded the mayor’s thoughts by reasserting his personal beliefs in a woman’s right to choose.
“I deeply believe in the fundamental right of women to decide what to do with their bodies and to have control over their future,” Mosca said. “This is a personal decision for the woman. With almost 50 years of federal protections gone overnight, we must pass Proposition 1 on the ballot so that we preserve this fundamental right in California.”
Proposition 1, sponsored earlier this year by Gov. Gavin Newsom, Senate Pro Tempore Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) and state Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, would amend the state constitution to grant a woman’s right to abortion and contraceptives explicitly.
Blakespear asserted there was precedent for the city to make such an endorsement of the resolution, pointing to other surrounding cities such as San Marcos, Vista, and Escondido, where elected officials had brought up synonymous proposals.
“We are the fourth city regionally to consider a resolution in support of Prop 1,” Blakespear said in defense of her rationale for bringing forth the resolution. “The reason for Prop 1 is that it moves the issue of abortion out of the hands of a judge and codifies that protection of privacy.”
Councilman Tony Kranz agreed.
“As a council member and a Catholic, I take an approach to governance from a secular perspective,” Kranz said. “The reality is that we’re in a post-Roe era where there is a need to take action. And you don’t agree — I get it. But frankly, it’s one of those things where it’s time to stand up, and women’s fundamental choice about whether to bring a child into the world is at threat.”
The majority of public speakers at Wednesday’s meeting expressed strong opposition to the resolution, including numerous written letters opposing the proposal. Some called the resolution a political stunt, while others questioned the council’s authority to endorse a ballot proposition on behalf of all their constituents.
“Mayor Blakespear independently initiated item 12A, a citywide resolution which clearly is intended to support her well-published platform for her campaign for Senate,” said longtime resident Dennis Kaden. “To a growing number of citizens, this appears to be an abuse of power. With the election just weeks away, this should be questioned not only from the voter’s perspective but also from a legal one.
“Does the council now assume they have the power to make political and moral decisions for their constituents? By what legal right could this be considered within their purview to declare that all citizens support Prop 1 – and influence Encinitas voters prior to the upcoming elections on November 8th by adopting this proposed resolution on behalf of our city?”
Resident Ann McGinnis criticized the council for improperly using city resources to influence voters to support Proposition 1 on the November ballot.
“It is not the place of the mayor, nor the City Council, to arrogantly urge the citizens of Encinitas to vote for or against any issue on the ballot,” McGinnis said. “And, it is certainly not your place to spend city time or funds to promote the passage of a particular proposition. If you vote for this resolution, it opens the door for you to influence citizens to vote a particular way on myriad issues.
“While (Blakespear) is entitled to her personal opinion, it does not belong in a proposed city resolution. As a public servant, she is expected to represent all the citizens of Encinitas and show respect for the court and our system of government. Whether she agrees with the decision or not does not take away the legitimacy of the decision.”
Other residents who oppose the ballot measure accused the mayor of attempting to push her personal opinions on the abortion issue onto Encinitas residents.
“Our family is offended on more than one level,” said Julie Madden. “First and foremost, we are offended that the City Council would encourage Encinitas residents to vote for a measure that would literally kill more unborn babies’ lives than are already taken each year. This is not a ‘right to reproductive healthcare.’ This is the killing of babies, and this Proposition 1 would allow the killing of babies up until the moment of birth.
“Think about that, for even just a moment. Let it also be known that the citizens of California would pay for these abortions via our tax dollars. City council, your views are not our views. The citizens of Encinitas will vote on Proposition 1 on Nov. 8. We do not need the City Council to represent the moral views of the city of Encinitas.”
And still others felt Blakespear’s resolution was inappropriate based on her political aspirations, attempting to bolster her current campaign platform.
“Your resolution does not represent the feelings of all people in Encinitas,” residents William and Rosemary Wolanin wrote in a letter. “I feel strongly that it is a conflict of interest for Mayor Blakespear to present a resolution that is part of her political platform. Furthermore, it is not the place for a city council to support or deny by resolution a proposition that is deeply felt by people both for and against an issue. Please do not make the issue of abortion an Encinitas political statement. Let each of the voters make up their own minds and cast their votes accordingly.”
Other residents supported the resolution, calling it an essential step in affirming the city’s support for the pro-choice movement.
“The City of Encinitas is home to a large healthcare community,” said resident Theresa Beauchamp, a healthcare practitioner. “This resolution is an important declaration that our City will support our community members’ access to and our medical professionals’ provision of high quality and safe reproductive care.”
Councilwoman Kellie Hinze defended the council’s decision while acknowledging the move was deeply unpopular with some residents.
“In today’s climate, voters want to know where their elected officials stand on protecting women’s right to reproductive freedoms, so I was glad Mayor Blakespear brought forward the resolution to support Prop 1,” Hinze said. “During Wednesday night’s public comment, anti-choice speakers ardently described their opposition to abortion with some of the most impassioned language I’ve heard during my four years as a council member.
“I firmly respect the right of anyone who doesn’t support abortion never to get one, just as I believe that women who choose abortion and contraceptives have the right to do so. Abortion is healthcare which is why Prop 1 has the support of medical professionals. A woman’s right to bodily autonomy belongs enshrined in our state’s constitution.”