The City Council of Philadelphia voted to repeal the recent decision to be named an officially "pro-choice" city, Catholic News Service reports. The original vote, which slid by at 9 to 8 only seven days ago, was overturned by a 13 to 4 vote yesterday.
Cardinal Justin Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia, issued the following statement: "I applaud the members of Philadelphia City Council who worked to rescind last week's troubling resolution." He said, "The members who supported today's resolution are to be commended for reflecting carefully upon this issue and showing the courage to revisit it."
"I appreciate that the council has considered seriously the sensitivities of all Philadelphians and has rightly voted to take these sensitivities into account. It is my hope that this occasion will lead to a more productive dialogue and ultimately to greater reverence for the sanctity of all human life."
Exactly one week before, he publicly rejected the new resolution as "divisive" and "erroneous" in an official press release. He pointed out, "In a city where so many people vigorously defend life at every stage, proclaiming Philadelphia 'pro-choice' is inconsistent with reality. It unfairly saddles those who support life at all stages with this shameful label."
He also called on all council members who voted for the bill to "apologize to the thousands of Philadelphians they have offended today, and turn their energies toward improving the quality of life and the safeguarding of all residents."
The City Council's resolution of June 7 stated, "Being a pro-choice city means defending the right to choose a legal and safe abortion as a final but critical option for women." It also supported, "the ultimate control of the individual over her own body and her own life."
The document concluded by encouraging other cities to join and become "pro-choice."
Planned Parenthood originally asked Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown to make the proposal. They also helped her draft the document.
Councilman Deacon Juan Ramos of St. Peter the Apostle Parish, quoted by CNS, said he was "not surprised that Planned Parenthood was behind the resolution." He commented, "The language of the resolution told me she [Councilwoman Brown] had gotten it from one of the pro-abortion activist groups."
Mirroring Cardinal Rigali's words from the previous week, Ramos stated, "This city cannot just be classified as a pro-choice city, because there are hundreds of thousands of people in this city who are pro-life, like myself."
Councilwoman Brown now admits to wishing that she had "proceeded differently", says the Philadelphia Enquirer. "Regret is too strong a word," Brown said. "I have learned as an enlightened pro-choice advocate that there may have been other ways to make my position known.
Five council members changed their position on the city title, and all those in opposition agreed that the new title was not a true reflection of the city's position on abortion. Council President Anna C. Vernon, CNS reports, said she voted against it because it "does not respect the views of thousands of the city's citizens who do not agree with it." Councilman Jack Kelly, who refused to support the proposal for the same reason, revealed that he had only found out about it the morning of the vote.
Councilman Frank Rizzo sponsored the repeal of Philadelphia's new title. According to the Philadelphia Daily News, Rizzo called the resolution "totally unnecessary" and "divisive." He said it "disrespects" the Catholic Church, "panders" to a special-interest group and was won by a "pathetically narrow majority."