Around 200 people rallied outside Fresno City Hall on Tuesday morning as Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer and Councilmember Garry Bredefeld spoke in opposition to a reproductive freedom resolution that was taken off the Fresno City Council agenda. Bredefeld called a news conference Tuesday after his fellow Councilmembers Miguel Arias and Esmeralda Soria removed from the agenda a resolution declaring the city of Fresno a “defender of health equity and reproductive freedom for all” and calling on Congress to protect abortion access.

Arias and Soria twice removed the reproductive freedom resolution from city council meeting agendas. The resolution referenced California leaders’ efforts to protect abortion while other states have restricted abortion. “This resolution supporting abortion is wrong and extremely divisive,” Bredefeld told the crowd of people, many of whom were holding anti-abortion signs.

“There is no rationale for it being on the council agenda except for radical city council politicians pandering to those in support of abortion.” Bredefeld and Dyer were joined by former Fresno Mayor Alan Autry, the executive director of Right to Life of Central California, the Fresno Roman Catholic Diocese bishop, the Cornerstone Church pastor, and the president of the Fresno County and City Republican Women Federated.

Bredefeld and Diane Pearce, the president for the Republican Women Federated, said during the news conference they suspected the resolution was brought forth to benefit Soria in her Assembly campaign through contributions and endorsements. “So what is really going on here? Why would these council members bother with such a resolution?” Pearce said. “It isn’t about the current offices they hold. It’s about currying favor with the political left for future aspirations. “It’s not about Fresno. It’s about progressive endorsements and campaign contributions for a state assembly race,” she said. “The division it creates within this community is of no concern to these council members, and it’s shameful.”

In an interview with The Bee, Soria said she hoped to bring the resolution forward to coincide with reproductive rights events in Sacramento, but the timing didn’t work out. Just because she pulled the resolution off of the agenda does not mean she does not stand behind it, she said.  “I’ve always been pro-reproductive rights,” she said. “I stand with thousands of other women who also care about reproductive rights.”

The city leaders exchanged barbs, asking their counterparts to focus on real issues affecting Fresno instead of engaging in political theater. Dyer said defending reproductive rights is not what people want from their city government. It’s an issue to be tackled at the state and federal levels, he said. “This resolution won’t add one job, repair a single street, make our neighborhood safer, or help us reduce our homeless population,” he said.

“This council resolution was designed to do one thing: to divide this community and to tear this community apart. It stands in direct opposition to the ‘One Fresno’ philosophy, which is designed to unite our community just as we stand united here today for a common purpose.” Dyer said if any councilmember tries again to pass such a resolution, he’ll veto it.

Arias, in a statement to The Bee, disagreed. “It is obvious that women’s rights and voting rights are under unprecedented attack, and it is everyone’s business, including ours,” Arias said….


The above comes from a Feb. 8 story in the Fresno Bee.