If passed, Wright City would become the first city in Missouri to declare itself a "sanctuary city for the unborn."
Former Wright City Mayor Dan Rowden is pushing for the city to become a “sanctuary city for the unborn.”
Rowden filed paperwork with the city on June 5 and then spoke during the public commenting section of the June 8 board of aldermen meeting.
The city has just begun reviewing Rowden’s request, Board of Alderman President Ramiz Hakim said in an email.
In Wright City, a member of the board of alderman is required to sponsor any proposed ordinance for it to make the agenda. Hakim said no alderman has as of yet sponsored the proposal, so at this time it cannot proceed further.
He declined to comment further on the issue.
During his public comments, Rowden pushed for the city to take action. “I would ask, please, that the board would move forward with the ordinance for review,” he said during the board of aldermen meeting. “What I’m asking tonight is to please give us a favorable response. Let your conscience guide.”
Rowden, who was mayor of Wright City from 2017-2021, expanded further during an interview on June 12.
“I’m hopeful that knowing some of the people on the board and their hunger for life and their caring about others in the community, I’m hopeful that we’ll get the sponsor we need.”
Three other men also provided public comments during the June 8 meeting.
Rowden said supporters of the ordinance plan to continue attending board meetings “until we get some feedback.”
“If we have an opportunity, I think it’s our duty, it’s our responsibility to be there and to support the ordinance and support the mayor and the board of aldermen and give them all the positive encouragement we can,” he said.
Sanctuary cities for the unborn is a group pushing for ordinances banning abortion in cities and counties across the country.
Sixty-seven cities have passed ordinances, though two cities – Omaha, Texas, and Mason, Ohio – have since repealed the ordinance. An additional eight cities, all in Texas, considered and rejected an ordinance.
No Missouri city has as of yet passed an ordinance, and no Missouri city is shown as considering an ordinance as of June 12.
Abortion has been completely banned in Missouri since June 24, 2022. The Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, which had guaranteed a right to an abortion anywhere in the country, that same day. Prior to the Supreme Court ruling, the only facility in Missouri that provided abortions was in St. Louis.
“There are already a number of petitions out there to overturn the abortion ban,” Rowden said in the interview following the meeting. “So this provides that extra protection for unborn children in Wright City because even if a petition is filed and a petition ultimately wins, it doesn’t change the ordinance we would pass. So I think it’s just an extra measure of protection for the unborn and it helps us to give a voice to them.”
Jonathan F. Mitchell, an attorney based in Austin, Texas, has volunteered to represent Wright City for free should the city face any litigation over the ordinance. The document is dated June 1 and was obtained by The Warren County Record under a Freedom of Information Act request.
Today, the closest facility to Warren County that provides legal abortion services is Hope Clinic in Granite City, Ill., roughly an hour's drive away.
An NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll of 1,291 adults conducted from April 17-19 shows that 61 percent of Americans support abortion rights, a number that has grown since the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
“The majority of Americans agree that women should have access to abortion and should have the right to make their own health-care decisions,” President Joe Biden said in a 2022 statement. “Congress should listen to the will of the American people and restore the protections of Roe as federal law.”
The Warren County Record reached out to multiple pro-choice groups on this issue, but had not received any comment as of press time.
About the author: Jason Koch is the editor of The Warren County Record, and covers local news and government for the newspaper. He has won multiple awards from both the Indiana and Illinois APME and from the Illinois Press Association. He can be reached at 636-456-6397 or at firstname.lastname@example.org