In emotional meeting, Edmonds City Council passes resolution supporting reproductive rights

Updated with language from resolution now posted on city website.

Emotions, hopes, fears and frustrations all collided at Tuesday’s City Council meeting as the national debate over abortion rights came to Edmonds.

At the end of a tumultuous meeting that was extended twice, the council finally voted unanimously, 6-0 (Councilmember Neil Tibbott was not present) to pass a resolution condemning the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down Roe v. Wade. The resolution urges that Congress pass a law guaranteeing the right to abortion nationwide and create a policy that Edmonds police should not cooperate with out-of-state law enforcement to prosecute those who come here for an abortion or other reproductive health services.

One speaker said it best — “these are unprecedented times.” That was clear from the stream of people who spoke for or against the proposed resolution, and from the large crowd that gathered in the council chambers.

Attendees at the July 5 Edmonds City Council meeting.

One speaker said it best — “these are unprecedented times.” That was clear from the stream of people who spoke for or against the proposed resolution, and from the large crowd that gathered in the council chambers.

Edmonds resident Joan Longstaff

Joan Longstaff was first of two dozen to speak and defended her pro-life stand, arguing that the resolution does not represent so many of the people of Edmonds: “We are one nation under God with liberty and justice for all. Yet, we are almost in a civil war again in our country. We are so divided and it’s scary… I think it is very inappropriate that our council is addressing women’s rights and abortion.”

Edmonds resident Colleen Tracy

Colleen Tracy urged the council to support the strongest resolution possible, to keep abortion access safe, legal  and available: “I am so saddened and sickened and feeling very unsure of our country. I cannot imagine the feeling of horror for women in those states with stone-age abortion laws now and in the near future.”

Some came to the microphone to say that the city council had no business taking a stand on what the U.S. Supreme Court ruled; others to say that they were pleased that the council opted to show leadership and to recognize that “our rights are under attack.”

Mark Gibson warned the resolution “will be seen to be just purely partisan and will divide our city.”

Tiffany Mecca told the council: “I was terrified and so angry that Friday (of the court ruling)  I went to bed (the night before) having rights, woke up and they were gone. It is the place of this council to support these rights on a local level.”

Members of the Edmonds City Council discuss the issue Tuesday night.

For everyone who spoke, it was intensely personal — even for councilmembers. As they debated the resolution, Councilmember Diane Buckshnis fought her emotions as she told the room: “At 13, I was a maid in a hotel and I saw what happens when someone tries to self-abort, and it wasn’t pretty.” She said the issue is very difficult and she had prayed a lot on it, and decided it was important to make a statement from a city level to state legislators.

For Will Chen, it was personal as well. He was born in China and remembers that the Chinese policy of only one child to a family meant his sisters were forced into abortions. “In our state, we are talking about choice, about a woman’s freedom to choose.” He came to America, he added, to pursue freedom and “for that reason, we need to send a message to our lawmakers in the state that we want freedom.”

Council President Vivian Olson said she was uncomfortable with a resolution and made a motion that the council abstain and not make any statement;  that councilmembers should not speak on behalf of the community on this issue. Non-partisanship, she added, is a part of our charter and that “we are the only ones (in Snohomish County) who are taking up this action.

Laura Johnson and Susan Paine, who had introduced the resolution, both said they were “not in favor of doing nothing.” Paine said that since the  Supreme Court ruling,“everything has changed; we’ve lost decades of case law regarding privacy, regarding access to medical care with this ruling. This has changed everything.” The council voted down Olson’s motion to abstain.

It became clear the council would vote for a resolution, but which one? Two had been formally introduced. After a half hour of discussion and two extensions of the meeting, the members cobbled together elements of both with this language:


Section 1. The Edmonds City Council adopts this resolution to express its official position in support of amendments to the Washington State and the United States Constitutions to codify an individual’s right to comprehensive, safe and accessible reproductive health care, including abortion, contraception, gender-affirming health care, and marriage equality, and to urge our federal and state legislators to act in support of said rights.

Section 2.  The Edmonds City Council directs that copies of this Resolution shall be sent to Governor Inslee and our State representatives as a means of showing our City’s support for the passage of a Washington State Constitutional Amendment guaranteeing full access to abortion care services and increasing oversight over hospital mergers that have often interfered with the provision of reproductive health services for all people. 

Section 3. The City of Edmonds pledges to be a supportive community for people from other states coming to the area for the full range of legal and safe reproductive services and gender-affirming healthcare available in Washington State.

Section 4. With the passage of this Resolution, it shall be the policy of the City of Edmonds to refrain from providing any cooperation or assistance whatsoever to any out-of-state law enforcement agency, public entity, or private party if the matter concerns abortion-related conduct or other reproductive health care or services that are lawful in Washington, including but notlimited to declining to cooperate with an out-of-state subpoena, search warrant, or court order that has not been domesticated in Washington.

It mirrors a policy that Gov. Jay Inslee has just issued to the State Patrol, and it follows an established state law.

Here is the final version of the approved resolution, which now appears on the city website.

— By Bob Throndsen

  1. Division I’m starting to believe is the Democrat idea. I won’t be voting for anyone who put their name to this. Can we just stick to the business of Edmonds?

  2. When legislation happens based purely on “emotion” , nothing good is generally the result. Where were all of the my body , my choice supporters when the city was locked down and citizens were “mandated” to be injected with an experimental substance or be ostracized and lose employment opportunity? Covid was a possible death threat for humans while abortion is a for sure death of a human and should be viewed accordingly.

    1. The Supreme Court recently ruled that this legislation is to be determined at the local and state level. I commend our city council for stepping up to acknowledge the separation of church and state, and not allow personal health and safety decisions to be overpowered by religious viewpoints.

      1. Thank you Edmonds City Council. It’s important to understand that Pro Choice is not necessarily pro abortion; it’s about your freedom to decide for yourself when life begins. Scholars, scientists, physicians, and even religious scholars have long debated this question and no government entity should dictate what the answer must be.

  3. Thank you to the city of Edmonds for tackling this complex issue during unprecedented times. I appreciate the city taking a stand and organizing it’s collective stance on how to handle out of state support to those coming here for reproductive freedom. I believe this will happen and having a plan in place is necessary.

    I recognized we do not all agree on this emotional topic but Edmonds leaders were courageous in taking initiative to organize the communities collective thoughts.

    This is an example of how democracy works and I thank all involved for voicing their concerns and moving forward.

  4. Get to work council and work on projects for Edmonds!
    How about fixing sidewalks and potholes and solve other issues that affect our city – this will just divide us all more than we already are!
    poor decision – stick to work of the city!

  5. Glad I chose to live in Washington and Edmonds! Thank you for the courage to speak up and take a stand! Let Freedom Ring!

  6. I am very disappointed but not unexpected unfortunately with Councilman Neil Tibbott unavailable visiting family out of Country and Diane unfortunately not taking a stand for life on this one. Thank you Vivian and Kristiana for trying to separate your personal beliefs from your responsibilities on council. This resolution is not a legal act and I would love to participate in legal response with a group.

    This was all a show. Abortion is legal in Washington State. No one is going after woman who chose to have abortions in this State and they never were. This is more drama and division caused by the Mayor,
    Laura and Susan. We live in a Democratic State with all of its Chaos, violence, looting and the call to defund police.

    I was proud of the community men and woman that showed up even though retaliation is truly a risk for anyone using their America right of free speech.
    We are in a new dawn in our Country and citizens no longer have a voice when the representatives step over the line of their position and don’t even blink.

    1. The last two sentences of this article show why this resolution is so important. “The section also says that means Edmonds police will not help execute out-of-state search warrants or court orders. It mirrors a policy that Gov. Jay Inslee has just issued to the State Patrol, and it follows an established state law.”

      There are states that want to let an innocent pregnant woman whose life is at risk to literally be publicly executed by the State in front of their family. Not to mention women whose lives and controls over their own body are bypassed for lumps of cells that are not viable to live outside in the world.

      Abortion rights are supported by over 70% of people. Their essential freedoms to their own lives and pursuit of happiness has been threatened by a radical extremist minority.

      With this move, our council is reaffirming their commitment to basic human rights and decency. Definitely one of the most important things that has been done on the council that I have seen.

  7. Our City Council failed the citizens in this resolution. It divides the community while accomplishing nothing. The resolution supports the political talking points of Olympia and Seattle, but certainly does not represent the citizens of Edmonds as a whole. OK, that is done. Let’s get to work on City business now.

  8. Grateful for the council that was present for listening and standing up for choice.

  9. The City Council is way over estimated the value of their opinions on this subject. Of note councilmember Chen posted earlier this week on his Facebook account:
    “Happy 4th of July! As we celebrate the birthday of our great nation, let’s acknowledge our differences and find common ground, listen to each other, seek unity by the very reason we all call this place home, the desire for freedom and the pursuit of happiness.”

    His actions make his words sound like a bunch of BS.

    1. In private conversations, Will is incredibly reasoned, balanced, easy to talk to, and respectful. We do not see eye-to-eye politically on some items, but are neighbors and share in that common existence. I have never felt like I was being put down or belittled and always listened to (more than can be said for some of our CMs who refuse to even acknowledge simple comments and the existence of me or my family as a resident). All that said, I really wish he would realize how some of his “finding common ground” in public settings is actually not finding common ground at all. Yesterday would have been a great example of him as a new voice and presence on the council, fully understanding what the council is there for and what he was elected to do which is to govern City of Edmonds issues that can be directly influenced, but essentially coming to the conclusion he had to go along with it. I am now more confused then ever on what exactly those folks think their jobs are.

      1. Mr. Chen seems like a decent enough person, although at the end of the day he’s a partisan. So far his number one accomplishment has been to post selfies with other politicians such as with Patty Murray recently on social media. He certainly on this issue was not a leader of middle ground. I suspect he’s an ambitious type so at the end of the day he can’t bite the hand that feeds him especially in the Puget Sound region where it’s really only a one party state. I suspect he’ll move on to bigger better deals and leave Edmonds in the dust.

  10. You’ve made your point. Time to move on to actual city business. Until I do not see a single additional tagged building along HWY 99 (the car lot at 228th and 99 was closed for TWO DAYS before it was tagged with graffiti, in addition to all the other vacant buildings up and down the corridor), shopping carts discarded full of trash along the side of the road, another person walking out of Safeway with an arm-full or cart-full of items they have not paid for, people sleeping at the Community Transit bus tops, used needles at our park, people defecating along the Interurban in poorly lit areas, speeding so bad I cannot let my kids play in my front yard, the 99 project actually showing some real work and progress, the community office fully staffed and fully open, our police department fully staffed, etc.,… I am not sure why this body would waste another single minute of their time focusing on anything they do not have direct control of. Please work on making life for the residents of Edmonds markedly better and actually seeming like you even care about that in the first place.

  11. I applaud the council for taking this stand as we have to defend what is left of a woman’s right to choose a safe and legal abortion. This right has been destroyed at the federal level by the SCOTUS decision to overturn 50 years of precedent and in order to keep a woman’s right to chose legal in Washington, it’s very important to me to know how all elected officials will vote on this issue. Many in local city government go on to elected state government positions and I want to know without a doubt who will support a woman’s right to a safe and legal abortion.

  12. Edmonds city government just continues merrily on it’s down hill slide. We tried to watch last night, but decided we’d rather watch a good movie, than bad Kabuki theater. The Hand Maidens costume was just too much to tolerate any longer.

  13. A five year old Washington Post article stated that the U. S. was one of 7 nations out of 139 to allow elected abortions after 20 weeks. We aligned with Canada, China, Netherlands, North Korea, Singapore, and Vietnam.

    I too have some indelible memories that possibly color my views on abortion. I have chosen to stay silent until now as the Supreme Court interrupted the Constitution which does not give the right to abortion and sent the decision back to the states. Back to the states where “we the people “ can vote and decide. Abortion without restrictions has been legal in Washington for years, so nothing has changed.

    As a 19 year old student nurse receiving training at the county hospital in California I witnessed, stood next to the physician, as the infant was progressing through the birth canal and he/she crushed it’s skull with forceps or severed it’s spinal cord. The dead child was then thrown into the human waste receptacle on the floor. These are images that will be forever with me. We, women, have choices. We know when we’ve been raped, if it was incest. We have access to the morning after pill. We have months to decide to have an abortion. We don’t wake up one day and lying on the delivery table suddenly come to the realization that we’ve been raped, or, need to have a full term pregnancy aborted. Is this about some misguided sense of “my body, my choice” attitude that “look at me, I have the power, I’m in control” and I can end this full term life of a child “ because I can”?

    What about adoption? Why can a person who murders a pregnant woman be charged with her murder and the life of the unborn child – with no limit on the stage of pregnancy? Some of us remember the case of Scott Peterson in California who murdered his pregnant wife, Lacy. He was charged with two murders and given the death penalty.

    I’ll continue my comments in a follow up comment.

  14. I am very disappointed in the council vote to support abortions. Morally and ethically I am against this decision. Further, this has nothing to do with running the city. It should never have been on the agenda.

  15. City Councilmembers hold elected nonpartisan office. They have a Code of Ethics to uphold. The Code Of Ethics states that it’s principle function/duty “at all times” ( my quotation) is to serve the best interests of ALL the people. Your own personal opinions or experiences don’t or should not matter into your role as Councilmembers.

    You have ignored, set aside the opinions, beliefs of a large percentage of your constituents. You have further divided our community that is in dire need of being united. This was a perfect opportunity for you to try to unite and bring together Edmonds. Instead you choose to throw gasoline on an already burning building. What good did you accomplish? What positive “change” have you brought about? Why would you betray half of Edmonds and your Code Of Ethics? Regardless of your personal views and life experiences, which you are entitled to and I respect, your vote was a complete dereliction of your duties as Councilmembers and your Code Of Ethics. As a private citizen, have at it. As a Councilmember, stay in your lane.

  16. I have seen numerous comments on this subject that state that ‘the majority of Edmonds’ or most of Edmonds’ Residents are pro life and do not support abortion. I would genuinely like to know how these folks Know that, given that 70% of Americans support legal abortion.
    I do agree that enough of the Council’s time has Ben spent on this and they should now return to addressing pressing City issues.

  17. I’m incredibly pleased to see that those present at council voted unanimously in favor of this very important resolution. This brings our community together by showing commitment to the health and lives of not only Edmonds citizens but those that seek to have autonomy over their own bodies and value reproductive and gender affirming health care. I’m very proud of our city.

  18. Thank you Edmonds City Council members for making a statement in support of a pregnant person’s right to choose.

  19. To say that I’m disappointed in the unanimous vote to pass this resolution is a gross understatement. I am not surprised by the vote, however, with all the fear mongering and inaccurate information spewed out by those who believe that abortion rights are reproductive rights, it’s no wonder you voted how you did.

    Yesterday’s vote marks a new era: It’s a Deadmonds Kind of Day.

    So much for “listening to” and serving ALL of your constituents, Mayor Nelson and Council Members. You folded under pressure which concerns me for the well-being of Edmonds, our beautiful city and I seriously question your ability to continue to serve and lead Edmonds in issues that truly matter to all of your constituents.

  20. Huge disappointment in this Council. I thought some members had the fortitude to resist meaningless woke resolutions. Apparently not. So, since doing the business of the City is not the agenda of this Council, lets have some more meaningless resolutions. I propose resolutions to:
    1. Oppopse human trafficking at our uncontrolled Southern borders.
    2. Support delisting sea lions and seals from protected species in the Salish sea so that they can be hunted to save the salmon for Orcas to eat and live.
    3. Condemn China’s persecution of the Uyghur people in Northern China.
    4. Condemn Putin for his war in the Ukraine and prohibit him from visiting Edmonds.

    Lets find more ways to divide people instead of bringing them together. Our City Council is certainly doing their part.

    And by the way, the Council has no authority to set Police department policy via resolution. The Mayor can. However, consider the broad language prohibiting any help to out of state police agencies “if the matter concerns any abortion or reproductive health care issues.” So, if an unlicensed abortionist in Idaho illegally kills an 8 month old baby in utero then flees to Edmonds to avoid arrest, our police will provide no assistance to arrest the criminal?

  21. Thank you to the City Council for this vote. Standing up for women’s reproductive rights was the correct thing to do. Taking a stand is always risky but absolutely necessary in these unprecedented times. Whether you are a Democrat, Republican or Independent…it affects every woman in this country, the rights we fought for, taken away in an instant. It’s up to us to fight to regain autonomy over our bodies at the grass roots level again.

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