Lakewood City Council to Introduce Ordinance Restricting Police from Investigating Abortions

No city resources could be used to prosecute private reproductive decisions.

click to enlarge Lakewood City Council, from L to R: Jason Shachner, John Litten, Sarah Kepple, Dan O’Malley, Tess Neff, Tristan Rader, Tom Bullock - City of Lakewood
City of Lakewood
Lakewood City Council, from L to R: Jason Shachner, John Litten, Sarah Kepple, Dan O’Malley, Tess Neff, Tristan Rader, Tom Bullock

Lakewood City Council will introduce legislation Tuesday evening to restrict the use of city funds and police resources from investigating abortion care. Council members Jason Shachner, Sarah Kepple and Cindy Marx are co-sponsoring the measure, which will be referred to committee and could be adopted later this summer or early fall.

Following the U.S. Supreme Court's Decision to overturn Roe v. Wade last month, and the state of Ohio's six-week abortion ban that took effect shortly thereafter, the Lakewood ordinance is designed to protect residents from  ongoing incursions on their reproductive rights.

Shachner represents Lakewood's Ward 2 and is the ordinance's lead author. He told Scene Tuesday afternoon that he'd researched the issue carefully and believes that Ohio's Home Rule guidelines and state supreme court precedent would be on Lakewood's side.

"This is essentially a regulation on our division of police and how they're using city funding and assets," he said. "It's wholly within our purview to determine how the city is run and how tax dollars are spent."

The ordinance holds that no members of the city's police department, or others acting on behalf of the city, would be allowed to store or catalog reports of abortions; provide information on abortions to other governmental agencies; investigate or arrest those accused of giving, getting or facilitating abortion care; cooperate with other departments investigating abortions; or participate in the prosecution of abortions.

Shachner said that while abortion will remain a controversial issue, he believed the ordinance reflects the will of his constituents in Lakewood, one of Cleveland's most populous inner-ring suburbs.

"In fact, I think it reflects the will of most Ohioans," he said. "The state is so gerrymandered — and we've seen Republicans flout the will of voters and the Supreme Court again and again — that it's up to municipalities to protect residents from our overreaching state government. These are private healthcare decisions, and people don't need the state coming in to probe and upend their lives."

Shachner said he hoped Lakewood might set an example for other Cuyahoga County communities and hoped neighboring suburbs would soon follow Lakewood's lead.

The ordinance will be introduced Tuesday evening and referred to committee, where council will vet the bill's language and make any necessary changes, Shachner said he suspected his council colleagues would support it that it would likely pass in September.  The emergency ordinance would take effect immediately after it received a two-thirds vote.

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Sam Allard

Sam Allard is the Senior Writer at Scene, in which capacity he covers politics and power and writes about movies when time permits. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and the NEOMFA at Cleveland State. Prior to joining Scene, he was encamped in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on an...
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