Lea County in New Mexico moves forward with ‘Sanctuary County for the Unborn’ ordinance

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the guest author.

On Thursday morning, citizens across Lea County (pop. 76,432) arrived at their county courthouse in Lovington, New Mexico, to see what their county commission would do concerning a “sanctuary for the unborn” ordinance which was placed before them. The county commission unanimously voted 5-0 in support of introducing the “Ordinance Requiring Compliance of Federal Laws Governing Abortion.” The final vote on the ordinance will take place on December 8.

The ordinance requires everyone under jurisdiction of the county to follow federal laws on abortion – specifically 18 U.S.C. § 1461 and 1462. The ordinance states, “It shall be unlawful for any person to violate 18 U.S.C. § 1461 by using the mails for the mailing, carriage in the mails, or delivery of: any article or thing designed, adapted, or intended for producing abortion; or any article, instrument, substance, drug, medicine, or thing which is advertised or described in a manner calculated to lead another to use or apply it for producing abortion.” The ordinance continues, “It shall be unlawful for any person to violate 18 U.S.C. § 1462 by: using any express company or other common carrier or interactive computer service for carriage in interstate or foreign commerce of any drug, medicine, article, or thing designed, adapted, or intended for producing abortion.” Lea County’s ordinance also prohibits any person from engaging in conduct which aids or abets any of these acts.

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The penalty outlined in the ordinance is $300 for each violation.

If passed, this ordinance would make the census designated places of Monument, Nadine, and North Hobbs, as well as the unincorporated communities of Bennett, Caprock, Crossroads, Knowles, Maljamar, and McDonald “sanctuaries for the unborn.”

If passed, the county ordinance will not apply to the incorporated cities within Lea County. The cities of Hobbs (pop. 41,604), Lovington (11,851), Eunice (3,087), Jal (2,264), and Tatum (773) will have to pass their own individual ordinances if they wish for their communities to be under the same protections.

Right to Life Committee of Lea County member Lori Bova shared, “I have long advocated for life at the local, state, and national level. Sadly we just don’t have the numbers in Santa Fe to advance pro-life legislation. That is why I am thrilled our city and county leaders have been willing to listen to their constituents and take positive actions to ensure we don’t become an abortion destination in southeastern New Mexico.”

Bova continued, “With our proximity to the Texas state line, we knew even if our cities had protections in place, abortion providers would be able to set up shop in the unincorporated areas. I was encouraged last week as our Lea County Commissioners unanimously voted to move to publish an ordinance requiring clinics to abide by federal statute. I am grateful for their continued willingness to keep the life issue at the forefront.”

Since July, Bova’s group has been working with Right To Life of East Texas and Abortion On Trial to do everything possible to protect southeastern New Mexico from Whole Woman’s Health, which has closed its abortion facilities in Fort Worth, McKinney, Austin, and McAllen and is heading northwest into New Mexico.

Right To Life Committee of Lea County takes a picture at the county commission meeting with Senator David Gallegos (R-Eunice) – who stood with them in support of the ordinance. (Photo: Mark Lee Dickson)

Working under the name Stirrups, LLC, the abortion industry has recently been in negotiations to purchase a building located at 111 West Clinton Street in Hobbs, located just four miles from the Texas border. While the initial deal was said to have fallen through, sources revealed the abortion industry is still in negotiations to set up shop in the city of Hobbs.

On Monday, November 7, the city of Hobbs will be voting on an ordinance which they introduced for publication at their October 17 meeting.

While optimism is high for the passage of the ordinance in Hobbs, concerns have been raised after the ordinance was tabled in the city of Clovis on Thursday night. Abortion On Trial general counsel Mike Seibel shared, “The citizens of Clovis asked for their city commission to pass an abortion ban and they received a dog and pony show instead with the city commission ultimately voting to table the ordinance with the intent to re-evaluate the matter after the next legislative session. That is not what the citizens of Clovis asked for.”

Despite the setback in Clovis, it has not squashed the movement in New Mexico. The City of Lovington is planning on introducing a similar ordinance at their next meeting on Monday, November 14. Residents are planning on returning to the county commission meeting on December 8 when they cast their final vote on adopting the ordinance defending life.

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