EFFINGHAM, Ill. (WCIA) — The Effingham County Board passed a resolution declaring the county a “sanctuary for the life of unborn human beings.”

It’s an issue causing an uproar among residents. The board passed the resolution Monday. It means the county is taking the stance condemning abortion, except if both mother and child are at risk.

It’s not an ordinance, so technically it doesn’t change the law or affect women’s lives in any way. The board chairman says this is their way of getting people and lawmakers to talk about when life begins. 

Kathleen Miller spoke in opposition during public comment saying,” Mind your own business, and do the business that you were elected to do for this county.” 

This decision was a political statement by the board which angered many.  

Miller said, ‘You don’t want women to have a legal, safe, medical procedure that you don’t agree with.”

There were some who were grateful the board erred on the side of pro-life.

Valerie Kemme said, “Thank you so much for having the courage to bring up this sensitive topic and for your efforts to protect the lives of unborn children and their mothers.” 

But some say that decision isn’t up to the board to make. 

Shirley McEvans said, “The government has no right to put their morals onto their citizens. That’s just the bottom line.” 

When it came to a vote, strong words were spoken by Karen Luchtefeld, the only board member who voted “no” on this divisive issue.

She said, “If your religion is more important than our United States Constitution, then you should work in a church, mosque, or a synagogue and keep out of public office.”

But, board chair James Niemann believes this is a decision which needed to be made and could spark a bigger conversation across the nation.

He said, “When we start talking about whether or not someone is going to live or not and when there’s a question of life, that the burden of proof should be beyond a reasonable doubt.” 

That’s why he wrote this resolution: to take a firm stance on the board’s point of view. 

Niemann said, “If a question of life comes up before the board, it will direct the board’s behavior until such time that it’s changed.”  

The board says Effingham County is the first in the state to adopt a resolution like this. They also say other counties have contacted them and are interested in the idea including Iroquois, Christian, Fayette and Jefferson counties.