After lengthy discussion and multiple public comments, Floyd County Supervisors, by a split 3-2 vote Tuesday, approved a resolution that “affirms the right to life of all human beings and opposes (House Bill 2491) and any other measure that would undermine the value of human life by taking the life of any human being, at any stage of his life, without the process of law he is due.”
County Attorney Stephen Durbin told the Board of Supervisors and audience that such a resolution is non-binding and does not fall under the purview of any local governing body in Virginia. House Bill 2491 sought to ease or lessen some restrictions of late term abortions but was tabled before a vote in the Virginia Assembly in the session that ended last month.
“Our culture is waging war against the most defenseless of human, the little ones in the womb,” said Susan Peters, who presented a resolution revised from one given in an earlier meeting. “Now, even our own governor gives credence to the thought that a committee (other than a doctor) should be able to decide whether a newly-born baby may live or die. This is barbaric!”
Former Indian Valley Supervisor Fred Gerald, appearing for the second-straight public comment session, told the Board that abortion itself should be outlawed and urged the Supervisors to oppose the action.
Durbin said the county is free to approve any resolution it wants but said the resolution under consideration proposes legal positions that could run contrary to public law outlined by the Supreme Court.
“The board has no authority over abortion or medical procedures in general,” Durbin said. “Roe V. Wade (which made abortion legal nationwide in 1973) is the law of the land.”
“This is not a political agenda for me,” said Indian Valley Supervisor Justin Coleman, who pushed for Supervisors’ approval of the original resolution presented a month ago. “This is a matter of faith for me.”
Some speakers Tuesday called all abortions “an American holocaust.” Another called it “murder.”
Board Chairman and Locust Grove Supervisor Lauren Yoder requested change of a section of the resolution that read the Supervisors “does not, and will not support the passage of any bill that allows the taking of human life without due process of law.” “This board can speak for itself, but we cannot speak for what a future board might want to support,” he said.
After all of the discussion, Coleman, Yoder and Burks Fork Supervisor Joe Turman voted to support the resolution. Little River Supervisor Linda Kuchenbuch abstained, and Courthouse Supervisor Jerry Boothe voted “present.”
“It’s not political for any of us,” Kuchenbuch said, adding that she would have preferred to have had the resolution presented through the county administrator so the attorney could review it before consideration.
“It may have not been political for any of us on this Board, but it was political for those behind bringing this to us,” Boothe said, adding that the proper elected officials to get the resolution were the county’s elected general assembly representatives, who have a say in what happens to the law.
In other matters before the Supervisors Tuesday:
--The Board set a public hearing on updates to the Virginia Department of Highways Secondary Six Year Road Plan for April 23 at 7 p.m. at the County Administration office;
--David Clarke of VDOT told the Board that bids for work on the pedestrian crossing upgrades in downtown Floyd should be let “this Spring” with hopes for work to commence in the summer;
--Kerry Ackerson, executive director of Plenty!, told the Board that the program had 4,035 visits in 2018 and served 585 Floyd County families. Ackerson said she and her husband moved to Floyd after they visited during a huge snow storm and her husband, who is from Minnesota, said: “I love this place!” Floyd County, she said, is “neighbors helping neighbors” because “that’s what neighbors do;”
--Dawn Barnes, senior extension agent for the Virginia Cooperative Extension office, told the Board that a survey within extension showed not only strong support for agriculture programs but also concern about opioid growth and other societal issues;
--Supervisors approved a proclamation recognizing March as “American Red Cross Month in the County of Floyd.”