The resolution called for terminating taxpayer funding of elective abortion coverage in Livingston County’s employee health insurance plans for non-union workers; it passed on a vote of 7-2, but not before an hour-and-a-half long call to the public, during which concerned residents voiced a wide variety of opinions.
The room was hot and at full capacity. Two audience members were dressed like characters from “The Handmaid’s Tale.” And though dozens of people spoke, no opinions were swayed and no minds were changed. Some speakers believed abortion services to be a part of women’s overall health care, and taking away insurance coverage for it was bringing religious beliefs into government. Others said their tax dollars shouldn’t pay for something they don’t believe in. And others were OK with women getting abortions, but they didn’t want to pay for it.
Both sides brought up various scenarios, including some personal stories. One man talked about how he himself was almost aborted and that he didn’t think any life was worth ending. Another man discussed three scenarios of abortions: one of a pregnancy caused by rape, a pregnancy that would have killed the mother, and a pregnancy that would have jeopardized a college athletic scholarship, explaining that it’s not right to have one case hold more weight than the other and that all women should have the right to chose.
Cheers were often given after someone spoke, and on one occasion there was a boo. A couple of times, Donald Parker, chair of the board of commissioners, reminded the public to be respectful to one another. At the end of the call to the public, Parker cautioned against discussions with opposing sides continuing outside the meeting room, urging them to avoid a “brouhaha.”
“Let’s not have any fisticuffs,” Parker said.
Each member of the board spoke before the vote was taken. In the end, the resolution passed 7-2, with Gary Childs and Dennis Dolan voting against it.
Before casting his dissenting vote, Childs said the resolution hadn’t been thought out enough, and he pointed to a potential flaw: that the resolution was pitting union employees against non-union employees.
Dolan said that while he learned a lot at the meeting, there was still too much about which he was unsure to make a final judgment call.
Commissioner Wes Nakagiri, the driving force behind the amendment, said he was pro-life, and went on to explain that if a puppy was treated like a fetus in an abortion, there would be public outcry.
“And rightly so,” he said.
Parker leaned on “A Man for all Seasons” for support, and said the commissioners were elected for their views, and that his view is pro-life.