Commissioners unanimously approve proclamation to make Randolph County latest ‘sanctuary for life’

Piedmont Triad News

Update, 12/9/2021, 7:30 p.m. — Randolph County Commissioners on Thursday night unanimously voted to approve a resolution that supports the right to life from the moment of conception.

Prior story

RANDOLPH COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — Randolph County’s board of commissioners on Thursday evening will become the latest elected body to consider a resolution that supports right to life from the moment of conception.

Davie, Wilkes and Yadkin counties earlier this year passed similar proclamations as part of a program created by the Personhood Alliance, an organization in Centerville, Tenn., that promotes conservative values. All the proclamations are symbolic and have no legal standing.

Randolph County commissioners in November agreed to hear the proclamation, which will be presented at 6 p.m. Thursday by the Rev. Mark Wilburn, associate pastor of Balfour Baptist Church in Asheboro.

The item is listed on the commissioners’ agenda as the “Sanctuary for Life Resolution.” Wilkes and Yadkin counties were careful not to use the word “sanctuary” because of its possible apparent links to areas that claimed “sanctuary” status.

Randolph’s proposed proclamation says, in its introduction, that the commissioners would be declaring the county to be “a sanctuary for life and urging the citizens of the county of Randolph to promote and defend the inalienable right to life and the inherent dignity of all human beings, including the preborn, from conception or fertilization…”

Those words and that approach follow the same pattern as emerged in the other counties, where a local minister also was recruited to spearhead the effort.

The resolutions all address what is perceived to be an overreach by the U.S. Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade and subsequent rulings, suggesting that the court violated the U.S. Constitution, that such matters belong in the purview of states.

Coincidentally this issue has gained new scrutiny in since last week, when the court heard arguments about a restrictive new abortion bill in Mississippi.

Court observers and legal experts have said the pattern in questioning by the nine justices would suggest they at least support Mississippi’s law – which bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy — and may even consider striking down Roe v. Wade in its entirety.

In Roe v. Wade the court ruled in 1973 – and reaffirmed in a ruling in 1992 – that women are allowed to make decisions about their pregnancies. That led to licensed physicians and clinics to perform abortions.

Many states have enacted increasingly narrow limits to Roe. Texas most recently passed a controversial law that empowers members of the public to police their neighbors about whether they violate a 6-week limit to when an abortion can be performed.

About 11 states are poised to end all abortions immediately should the court strike down Roe.

Start in Randolph

Wilburn said by email that a group of pastors from various denominations in Randolph County got the process underway, which is consistent with the pattern that emerged in the other counties.

“Our local pastors group became aware of counties in our state passing resolutions to be Safe Counties for the unborn through our local churches’ pro-life efforts and work,” he wrote. “We’re a grassroots community trying to live up to God’s Word.”

He said the group took the idea to the commission and that support for the resolution was mostly by word of mouth in the Christian community.

“Every person, regardless of race, gender, background, socio-economic status, income level, country of origin, etc, is created in the image of God, and should be afforded the right to life,” Wilburn wrote. “We believe our county is able to encourage and support mothers and families who are in crisis pregnancy situations without turning to abortion.” 

“I am pleased that the churches and civic leaders within the county have united to say that abortion clinics are NOT welcome in Randolph County,” Caralynn Vaughn, executive director of Your Choices Randolph, a counseling clinic, wrote in an email. “We recognize that abortion not only ends a life, but traumatizes women (and often the men) who experience an abortion. We have a country of ‘walking wounded’ who have dealt with the fallout of an abortion and have tremendous regrets.”

About the program

Personhood Alliance’s programs include a “Personhood Strategy” that seeks to recruit churches and individuals to help spread its mission. Keith Pavlansky, a business owner, pastor and longtime resident of Yadkin County, has helped spread the word in the Triad.

“My responsibilities with the Personhood Alliance derived from my role as a pastor of a local church,” Pavlansky wrote in an email last month. “As an affiliate of The Personhood Alliance in NC, I engage with legislators to pass legislation that protects the God-given and Constitutionally protected right to life. We believe that it is wrong to kill innocent human beings, and we want to promote a culture of life.

“The Sanctuary city/county initiative is a good way to pass local resolutions that are reflective of the views of its citizens regarding the sanctity of life. I particularly like working with other pastors across all denominational lines who will engage the culture for positive effect. 

“We are creating ‘abortion-free zones’ (via resolution) across the state while helping to knit communities together and help families in desperate situations.”

Opposing views

Residents who attended the meeting in Wilkes County to protest the adoption of that resolution said they weren’t there because of abortion rights or right to life.

“We have zero abortion providers in Wilkes County today, and we will have zero abortion providers tomorrow,” JB Prevette, who attended the meeting, wrote to WGHP.

Molly Rivera, a North Carolina-based spokesperson for Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, termed such efforts as “anti-abortion extremists who are trying their best to spread their ideology across North Carolina through local ordinances.”

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