Grayson County advances ‘Sanctuary County for the Unborn’ Ordinance in Virginia

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On Thursday night, the Board of Supervisors for Grayson County, Virginia (pop. 15,343), voted 3-2 to publish and call for a hearing of a proposed “sanctuary county for the unborn” ordinance requiring compliance with federal abortion laws. If passed, the ordinance would be the first of its kind passed in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Located in southeast Virginia, Grayson County is home to the incorporated communities of Independence (pop. 1,002), Fries (pop. 451), and Troutdale (pop. 140). If passed, the ordinance would not apply to the incorporated communities but would apply to all of the unincorporated areas of the county. 

The effort in Grayson County came as a result of several members of the Grayson community reaching out to Pastor David Osborne at Mountain View Baptist Church in Independence. On Tuesday, March 7 a “Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn” interest meeting was held at the High School Auditorium – which had been reserved for the event by Pastor Osborne. At that event, Pastor Osborne spoke, followed by the founder of the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn Initiative. The ordinance, which was drafted specifically for Grayson County, was given to county officials on March 8 and has been under review for the past two months. 

The ordinance, titled “Ordinance Requiring Compliance With Federal Abortion Laws In Grayson County, Virginia; Declaring Grayson County, Virginia, A Sanctuary County For the Unborn” makes the same arguments as other “sanctuary for the unborn” ordinances passed, relying upon the Comstock Act. Like the ordinances most recently passed in the town of Edgewood, New Mexico, and the city of Danville, Illinois, the proposed ordinance for Grayson County would require compliance with federal statutes passed by Congress in 1873. These statutes, found in 18 U.S.C. §§ 1461–62, prohibit the mailing and the receiving of abortion inducing-drugs and abortion paraphernalia. 

Right To Life of East Texas Director Mark Lee Dickson takes a picture with Pastor David Osborne and members of Grayson County Community after the ordinance is moved forward for publication. (Photo via Facebook)

The Grayson County Ordinance states, “the laws of Virginia do not and cannot secure a right, privilege or immunity to act in violation of federal criminal statutes such as 18 U.S.C. §§ 1461–62, or to engage in criminal or racketeering conduct as defined by federal law.” The ordinance further argues, “the Board of Supervisors of Grayson County, Virginia, is bound by oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, and the statutory provisions codified at 18 U.S.C. §§ 1461–62 are the ‘supreme Law of the Land’ under Article VI of the Constitution and must be obeyed and respected by every person within Grayson County and by every judge in the Commonwealth of Virginia.’” 

The same day the Board of Supervisors considered the ordinance, the pro-abortion Women’s March organization sent out an email encouraging their audience to sign a petition to Congress to repeal the Comstock Act. The email shares their concern with the future enforcement of these federal statutes, stating, “If that happens, we’re f*cked.” 

Currently a total of 67 cities and two counties have passed ordinances which prohibit abortion within their city limits. While not every one of these ordinances is an explicit abortion ban, all of these ordinances do create that same reality of a community free from abortion. These 69 different jurisdictions are spread across 7 different states: Texas, Nebraska, Ohio, Louisiana, Iowa, New Mexico, and Illinois.

The hearing and vote on the proposed ordinance is expected to take place at a meeting in the near future. If the ordinance passes, Grayson County will become the first “sanctuary county for the unborn” ordinance passed in the Commonwealth of Virginia. 

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