FLAGSTAFF, Arizona (LifeSiteNews) — Pro-life advocates showed up in force Tuesday to speak out for the unborn during a Flagstaff, Arizona city council meeting that considered a resolution asserting the city’s opposition to the overthrow of Roe v. Wade.
Regardless of a deluge of powerful pro-life testimonies during the hours-long public comments section, all but one of the city council members (conservative Lori Matthews) decided to approve the pro-abortion resolution, which mirrors similar measures already passed in Arizona’s major population hubs of Phoenix and Tucson.
Despite the 6-1 vote in favor of the measure, which “calls on lawmakers to repeal the current 15-week limit and directs local police to refer possible violations to the Arizona Department of Health Services instead of making arrests,” according to the Arizona Mirror, abortion proponents were reportedly significantly outnumbered by pro-life advocates.
Those who spoke on behalf of the unborn included former Republican state Rep. Bob Thorpe, as well as young people, adoptive parents, fathers, mothers, and some women who had had abortions themselves.
Several people who attended Tuesday’s meeting told LifeSiteNews that the agenda of an earlier meeting introducing the resolution had been so vaguely worded that pro-lifers didn’t know to attend. Advocates for the unborn made up for that discrepancy Tuesday, though.
According to one estimate, around 200 people attended the meeting in total, roughly 150 of whom represented the pro-life perspective.
John Schiebe, a Flagstaff resident and Catholic father of eight children, including two adopted sons, told LifeSiteNews in a Wednesday phone interview that “there was a very strong opposition presence to this resolution yesterday.”
He pointed out that several speakers during the meeting emphasized the divisiveness of the proposal and argued that the statement of opposition to the overthrow of Roe didn’t represent the perspectives of many of the city’s residents.
Catholics and Protestants alike presented their arguments against the resolution, a collaboration Schiebe described as “the most united I’ve seen those groups” and something he said was “super exciting.”
LifeSite web developer and Arizona resident Jesse Waitz was also in attendance Tuesday. He emphasized the coming together of Catholics and Protestants to fight for the unborn, and suggested the massive pro-life turnout was likely a surprise to the largely liberal city council.
Schiebe himself spoke Tuesday, beginning his address by quoting the city’s mission statement, which had been read aloud at the commencement of the meeting.
“‘To protect and enhance the quality of life for all.’ For those who don’t recognize this phrase, it is the ‘mission’ of the City of Flagstaff,” Schiebe said, going on to blast the city’s proposed resolution as cutting directly against its own mission.
“It should be clear that the murder of an unborn child neither protects life nor enhances the quality of life for any of the affected parties,” he argued.
According to Schiebe, if Flagstaff really wants to improve the quality of life of its residents, it should direct resources toward adoption, not abortion.
“Rather than being killed in the womb, maybe the woman or man who will cure cancer or discover a super clean sustainable energy option will say, ‘In Flagstaff, I was given the gift of living,’” he said.
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Schiebe’s 15-year-old adopted son Landon gave his own remarks immediately after his father. Landon told the council their resolution suggests that the city believes children like himself should be killed, rather than allowed to flourish in an adoptive family.
“The only reason you’re sitting on this council right now is that your mom chose life for you,” the teen said. “The unborn are just as human as we are. They are growing. They possess unique human DNA, and are offspring of human parents. The only difference between us and them is their size, level of development, environment, and their degree of dependency. I pray that God forbids you to make our city a pro-baby-murder city.”
Greg Blanchard, a father of six and a deacon at San Francisco de Asis Catholic Church in Flagstaff, told LifeSiteNews on Thursday that it seemed the pro-abortion advocates didn’t “want to grapple with the fact that it’s a baby.”
“They don’t want to acknowledge the science that another person is involved in the situation … that the baby is a separate person” with the same rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” he said.
Blanchard agreed with an assessment posited by pro-lifer Brian Miller, who also attended the meeting and is an active member of the local 40 Days for Life chapter. Miller told LifeSite on Wednesday that he thinks the purpose of the resolution was to pressure the state to further loosen its restrictions on abortion.
Arizona had a pre-Roe trigger law that kicked in to ban abortion after the overthrow of Roe v. Wade by the U.S. Supreme Court last summer. That law was blocked, however, leaving only a 15-week ban.
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Despite the council’s ultimate decision Tuesday night to approve the resolution after the lengthy meeting, Miller told LifeSite that pro-lifers made an excellent showing.
“I just thought everybody there that was pro-life was just so amazing,” he said. “Everybody had stories. There [were] a couple ladies that had had abortions that spoke out and said that, you know, it definitely affected them later on in life.”
Miller, who frequently joins other pro-lifers in praying the rosary outside a local Planned Parenthood, said that while the resolution is a setback, pro-life proponents aren’t giving up the fight to protect Arizona’s preborn.
“We just really need to step up,” he said, urging other pro-lifers to contact their legislators, senators, and others “to let them know that this is wrong.”
In comments to LifeSite, Schiebe said the strong pro-life turnout at Tuesday’s city council meeting made him “optimistic that we can get some more traction citywide around working to protect the unborn but also working to really support and protect the birth parents who are going through these unexpected pregnancies.”
“We need to continue showing up,” Blanchard told LifeSite. He also put out a special call for men to show up to “protect the most vulnerable lives out there.”
“It’s just really important to stand up for the truth,” he said.