BY MARK HOSKINS
Just two months after declaring themselves a ‘sanctuary for guns,’ the Effingham County Board has declared themselves a ‘sanctuary for the unborn.’
Passing by a 8 to 1 vote last Monday afternoon, the county board has adopted a resolution stating that “Effingham County will opposed abortions except those necessary to save the life of the mother.”
The resolution goes into effect immediately, but it is not a law or an ordinance. The resolution simply marks where the county stands on the issue of abortion. The county board cannot legally outlaw abortions within Effingham County, although there are not currently any locations performing the practice within the county. Even when the Planned Parenthood in Effingham was still in operation (It closed it’s doors in 2016), it did not perform abortions on site.
According to Effingham County State’s Attorney Brian Kibler, “As long as they (a provider of abortions) follows and operates under current Illinois law, the county can do nothing to stop them. With the firearms, my office has discretion when it comes to prosecution under current and any possible future laws.”
The resolution did not pass without sparking plenty of debate. Hundreds of citizens attended the board meeting to voice their opinions, both in support of the resolution and against it.
One woman addressed the board, vehemently opposed to the resolution, saying “Who do you think you are? …You make up new rules about laws, passed by elected representatives, that you do not want to abide by… You insert your personal beliefs into settled laws. You don’t want women to have a legal, safe medical procedure just because you don’t agree with it.”
Another outspoken citizen told the board to “mind your business and do the business you were elected to do for this county.”
Yet the board found plenty of support in the crowd as well as many members of the Effingham County Right to Life were present. One citizen addressing the board stated that she supported what the board was doing to prevent abortions because “regret is something almost all mothers feel after they have an abortion.”
Karen Luchtefeld, the lone woman on the county board, was the lone vote against the resolution. She read a prepared statement before casting her dissenting vote. She stated that “If religion is more important to you that our United States Constitution, maybe you should work in a church or synagogue and stay out of public office.”
The resolution was first proposed and created by county board chairman Jim Niemann. The resolution went through several changes before reaching it’s finished language.
Effingham County’s declaration of itself as a ‘sanctuary for guns’ gained it national recognition. Several neighboring counties followed suit. It is yet to be seen if other counties in the southern half of the state will follow the ‘sanctuary for the unborn’ status.