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Lebanon proclaims May 25 'Pro-Life Day' on anniversary of city's abortion ban

Posted at 8:32 AM, May 24, 2022

LEBANON, Ohio — May 25 is now "Pro-Life Day" in Lebanon, city leaders proclaimed on the one-year anniversary of their abortion ban.

Lebanon became the first Ohio city to pass a local abortion ban last May. It prevents abortion clinics from coming to the city. The ban also makes it illegal to provide an abortion, aid an abortion or provide transportation for one within city limits. There were no and there still are no abortion providers in the city.

People who support abortion rights held a rally in downtown Lebanon to protest the ban, while city leaders celebrate the anniversary. City leaders said their proclamation is a way to celebrate the city council that passed the ban.

“If you believe that life is important, you have to take steps to protect it,” Lebanon Mayor Mark Messer said. “This is just a way that we can come back to this every year.”

The city hosted a diaper drive Wednesday as part of "Pro-Life Day." The city is known for its conservative values and has seen new development since the ban was passed, according to Vice Mayor Adam Mathews.

“We know that family values bring people that want to work, play and live here,” Mathews said. “Having this type of strong stance enables that here in Warren County.”

Organizers of the rally supporting abortion rights disagree. They said laws like this scare people away.

“We've seen people deciding not to come to Lebanon, not to come and spend their money here in restaurants or in shopping,” said Lebanon resident and rally organizer Alecia Lipton. “That's not good for the city itself.”

“This piece of legislation leads to confusion,” Leslie Nahigyan said. She's a nurse involved in planning the rally. She said the legislation prevents her from educating women on their reproductive options.

“When folks don't know what their options are, they may choose things that aren't safe or they may proceed with a pregnancy that they're not prepared for.”

The ACLU of Ohio has filed a lawsuit challenging Lebanon's ban. It said the ban violates the constitution regardless of what happens to Roe vs. Wade. The city said it expects the ban to hold and lawmakers are working with the same legal team that helped enact the "Texas Heartbeat Bill."

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