If there is something happening in your community that involves city government—like the opening of a new abortion facility—speaking out at your city council or other public municipal government meetings is an essential tool to making your voice heard and making your city take action.
Understanding your local government
To make an impact on your local government, you’ll need to understand it. Take a look at the website of your town to figure out how the government is structured.
Many towns have a City Council or Village Board made up of a set number of elected officials who look out for the interests of the citizens of the local municipality. The board is often headed by a Mayor or other representative of the executive government of the municipality. Find out how your town’s government is structured, when they meet, and who the people on the council are. On the chance that you know someone on the council, or know that someone on the council is pro-life, talking to them can be give you an excellent head start on figuring out how best to approach the council.
Most municipalities will have a “public comment” time at either the beginning or end of their meetings where citizens are free to address the council on any matters of interest to the public, whether or not they are on the council’s agenda for that meeting, often with a time limit around 3 minutes per person. Be aware that you will often need to sign up in advance, or at the start of the meeting.
Gather a group of people who are willing to speak publicly and plan to attend an upcoming meeting. All the better if you are able to get the word out and pack the meeting room with pro-life supporters.
What to talk about
When an abortion clinic, especially a Planned Parenthood clinic, moves into town there are certain issues that can be rightfully brought up at a city council meeting.
- Did the facility obtain the proper permits?
- Was the organization truthful on the permit applications?
- Is the property zoned for medical use?
- Were the residents in the surrounding area given an opportunity to voice their concerns or opinions on having an abortion clinic in the neighborhood?
Put together some clear and concise Talking Points before the city council meeting so that those who are willing to speak up can cover the important aspects without too much repetition. Remind the speakers to be respectful and sensible, not to sound judgmental or spiteful, but to express themselves with passion and confidence. It is a good idea to have a planning meeting with the pro-lifers prior to speaking out at a city council meeting.
Don’t expect to solve anything at one city council meeting. It may be necessary for the pro-lifers to attend several meetings over a period of several months to make it clear to the elected officials that they are not going away and that they expect the council to take action to keep the abortion facility out or to limit their impact on the community if the facility is already open. Urge residents to keep in touch with their representatives and make sure the issue stays current.
Residents of the city will make more of an impression than non-residents, although the input of both can be valuable. When individuals speak at a city council meeting, they should give their home or business address and state the name of their own council representative or alderman. They should mention how long they have been residents, something they like about living in the community, then express their concerns about the impact of Planned Parenthood.
Elected representatives know that their position on the council depends on how well they represent their constituents. Even if they do not agree with you on abortion or the evil of Planned Parenthood they won’t want to offend you or risk losing your vote.
Speaking to other municipal bodies
Besides the City Council there are other city departments that may be involved when Planned Parenthood comes to town: the zoning board, the health department, planning and development. Take advantage of every opportunity to raise your concerns with each of these departments.
That will mean pursuing the same steps as you did with the city council—finding out when these bodies meet, checking agendae, finding out how public comment can be made, etc.—and packing their meeting with pro-lifers so they know the public is watching.
What to do next
If the municipal government fails to act on behalf of your interests, don’t lose heart. Your work is not over.
Take note of how each member of the council spoke or voted about the cause. This information can be used to help them or hinder them when election time rolls around.
Also, keep an eye on further developments at the facility. When people are praying or sidewalk counseling outside the abortion facility, be sure to keep an eye out for any illegal or disturbing behavior. If you suspect something illegal is happening, this can be brought to the police or city government.
File Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests regularly asking for any communication between the city and the abortion facility to see if they are planning anything. Also file requests for any emergency call recordings to the address of the abortion facility.
Continue to monitor upcoming city council agendae to see if the abortion facility is trying to do anything like expanding their facility or adding parking. Try to hinder their efforts at the city government level any way you can.