EL CENTRO — Thousands of pro-life citizens poured into the El Centro Council boardroom Tuesday, spilling out into the courtyard, and standing for hours listening to speaker after speaker implore the council to reverse the El Centro Regional Medical Center’s (ECRMC) decision on the Transfer Agreement with Planned Parenthood’s abortion facility.
Mayor Efrain Silva asked City Attorney Kris Becker to read a statement, which explained the hospital trustees were an independent board and moved autonomously in their decisions. For the Planned Parenthood transfer agreement, the hospital trustees voted 3-3 with one abstention, giving no direction to the managerial staff. The staff, then, was inclined to proceed, permitting Planned Parenthood to be granted their transfer. Two hospital trustees resigned in protest to the manner the vote was carried out.
Attorney David Gibbs, a nationally renown pro-life advocate later accused the board of hiding behind their lawyers, stating the hospital vote was illegal, taken during closed session under the guise of potential litigation. He said they threw the controversial decision into the hands of an un-elected, unaccountable hospital employee. He believed the vote violated the Brown Act.
“The Transfer Agreement is of paramount concern. We believe that it was an absolutely illegal meeting conducted by this city’s attorney. This was a violation of the Brown Act. We are shocked at what transpired at this meeting,” David Gibbs told the board.
“The signing of the Transfer Agreement borders on fraud. The people were told no decisions would be made and there was nothing on the agenda. Planned Parenthood will get tax dollars. The hospital will get nothing. The city’s legal counsel proceeded to tell the Board of Trustees that if they don’t sign the Transfer Agreement, they could be sued personally. Your city attorney should get a check from Planned Parenthood, because she is working for them. What occurred last Tuesday was illegal and fraudulent. You have the authority to take action on the Transfer Agreement. You created the Board of Trustees. You own the hospital. People are concerned,” Gibbs said. “I would recommend 1. – To censor or fire the city attorney for her actions. 2. – The council should act in two weeks to cancel the Transfer Agreement. And 3. – Replace the Board of Trustees or dissolve it.” Gibbs stated with the final argument on transfer agreements being, “Transfer Agreements happen all the time with doctors. Planned Parenthood has no doctors.”
A transfer agreement allows a clinic to send medical emergencies to the contracted hospital using local ambulance services. An abortion clinic must have a transfer agreement to be in business.
Before public comments began, the council voted to approve a $50 million dollar bond for the hospital’s earthquake retrofit. Pastor Chris Nunn used the opportunity to point out the council’s false argument that they have no say over the hospital’s decisions, yet they can vote on major bonds for the hospital. Chris Nunn asked concerning their vote to pass the bond, “Are you prepared for 30% of the people who use this hospital that have private insurance to boycott this hospital because of the Transfer Agreement with Planned Parenthood? If the Transfer Agreement remains in place there will be action by this public that will affect the financial sovereignty of this hospital.”
The board also voted 5-0 to approve a letter of Intent to enter into a “Sister City” relationship with Mexicali. A speaker from Mexicali used the desire to be a ‘sister’ to Mexicali as her talking point.
“Mexicali is a pro-life community. You want to be our sister, yet you bring death and abortions to our people by allowing the abortion clinic to open in El Centro. They are targeting our women for abortions. If Mexicali wasn’t next to you, they would never open in the Valley. Abortion is illegal in Mexico. You are circumventing Mexico’s will for their citizens by allowing Planned Parenthood to perform abortions.”
Walter Colace, pastor for Christ Community Church, called Sedalia Sanders out on her pro-abortion vote as a member of the ECRMC board. He said it was an ‘act of betrayal’ against women… and against Christ. “You opened the meeting with scripture, you read The Lord’s Prayer, and then you voted against God’s will.”
“The signing of the Transfer Agreement with Planned Parenthood was not an act of advancement for our community, it was an act of betrayal. The majority of our community is not in favor of an abortion clinic. There is nothing more defenseless than an unborn child in its mother’s womb. When the city council opens up in prayer, it is absolutely a contradiction and an act of hypocrisy to call for God’s presence in a meeting and to then to sign a Transfer Agreement with Planned Parenthood to snuff out life. You should move according to the things of God. You appointed the Board of Trustees. You can override this thing. You are the ultimate authority. You need to do what’s right,” Colace said.
Marty Ellett, a nurse at ECRMC, reminded Sanders she called upon the Holy Spirit at the last meeting. He held up a plastic miniature model of a one-inch 12-week baby fetus. “John the Baptist leapt for joy in his mothers womb younger than this. Scripture says he was filled with the Holy Spirit while still in his mother’s womb. These are humans, babies, and not some lifeless matter.
“Not doctors, but nurse practitioners, midwives, and physician assistants will perform abortions. Planned Parenthood’s help wanted ads say ‘no experience necessary,” Ellett informed the board.
Ellett again described how a child is dis-membered in the womb, and then must be reconstructed outside of the womb to ensure all parts were removed. He also explained that if the womb is perforated and also the bowel, a deadly serious infection will occur and the patient wouldn’t know until they became sick.
Ellett’s last point was how would the clinic dispose of the deceased’s remains. He suggested the two likely ways were by either by washing them down the drain where they go into our wastewater system, or into the trash and our dumpsites.
Two speakers spoke for the abortion clinic, one saying she agreed with the concept of Mexico’s citizens coming to our valley for abortions and their right to be treated in our hospitals when the procedure goes wrong. “I see no wrong having Mexican women coming over and being provided health care.” She wanted to stand to defend women’s right to a legal abortion. She argued the baby was part of the woman’s body.
She accused the pro-life group of not caring for the child once it was born. Many stood up later and refuted that claim. Captain Jerry Esquer of the Salvation Army said he would immediately begin fundraising so anyone who came to his organization would be offered emotional and financial help for their child.
The other argued using the separation of church and state, even pointing out the distress the opening prayer caused her.
At the end of the long night, the city council voted 4 to 1, with the one being Sedalia Sanders, to seek out independent legal counsel to advise whether they could exert any legal authority over the Board of Trustees who are responsible for decisions at ECRMC. The city attorney stated in her opinion the board has no authority. The City Council made a rule in 1986 that the Board of Trustees would be independent of the council.
It was noted that they could over rule their own vote. The next meeting will be March 18, Tuesday, at 6:00 p.m.