Organizers, abortion clinic respond as petition to ban abortion in Bellevue city limits circulates

The ordinance would also outlaw abortion and abortion-inducing drugs within city limits
More on a controversial petition filed in Bellevue in an attempt to ban abortions within city limits.
Published: Aug. 18, 2022 at 10:27 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - On August 1, several citizens filed a request that the city of Bellevue creates an ordinance to declare them a “Sanctuary City for the Unborn,” a trend that has been growing across the United States in recent years and months.

“Bellevue is a city that supports families, it’s host to the air force base which provides national security to ensure American lives are protected, and that’s what this sanctuary city will do for the babies in the womb,” says Judith Mansisidor, one of the three Bellevue residents who officially filed the request for the special election and started the petition in Bellevue.

If passed, Bellevue wouldn’t just have a new title. The ordinance would also outlaw abortion and abortion-inducing drugs within city limits.

That isn’t all, however. Organizers also wish to limit internet access on certain topics at the public library in Bellevue, too.

The statement from the filing reads:

“A proposed ordinance outlawing abortion, abortion-inducing drugs, Human Trafficking, declaring Bellevue a sanctuary for the unborn and providing for remedies including a private cause of action to enforce the same and criminal penalties, encouraging the limiting of access to certain information by internet companies and requiring the Public Library to restrict access to certain information.”

“It’d be extremely damaging for the community,” says Shelley Mann, a representative for CARE, a reproductive healthcare facility that provides abortions in Bellevue.

“There are many women who have had abortions, this is not against them. This is saying there’s a different way forward if you find yourself in a crisis pregnancy situation, the answer does not have to be abortion,” Mansisidor says.

“I have a passion for others, anything that they need, I want to help moms choose life and I know that abortion hurts women and also steals life so I want to help in any way that I can,” says Bernadette Costello, who is with the LIFE Runners organization, and brought the ordinance proposal to the city alongside Mansisidor.

The LIFE Runners founder, Dr. Pat Castle, has been in communication with “Sanctuary City for the Unborn” organizer Mark Lee Dickson, a Texas man.

Dickson travels the country working with citizens who share pro-life ideals and helping them craft ordinance proposals and gather signatures and support to ban abortion in their cities.

Castle did not bring the ordinance proposal forward in Bellevue himself, as he is a Papillion resident.

The LIFE Runners can frequently be found protesting and sharing their message in front of the CARE clinic.

Mann says the facility saw this coming and they know Bellevue is being intentionally targeted because of the healthcare they provide.

“We’ve known that there are folks who are fighting against our clinic all the time so this doesn’t come as any surprise, but we’ve known about it for a while and assumed something like this would happen.”

Pro-life advocates need to gather 7,400 signatures from verified registered Bellevue voters in six months in order to bring the ordinance proposal to the Bellevue city council.

If the city council doesn’t pass the proposal, it goes to the ballot for Bellevue residents to vote on in a special election.

“Nebraska really only has a couple of access points where people can get this type of healthcare and unfortunately we’re the only one that’s been pretty consistent over the course of the last few years,” Mann says. “I think closing down this clinic would close down access for Nebraskans, people in Bellevue, and people in the region in general.”

Mann says their services at CARE are needed now more than ever before.

“I’ve escorted [patients] every week for, gosh, a little over three years, and I’ve never seen patient loads like we have right now, it’s crazy.”