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Over the last year, 14 cities across the State of Texas have enacted enforceable ordinances outlawing abortion within their city limits. The largest city to have outlawed abortion is Big Spring (population 28,864) located in West Texas, but that may change if Lubbock joins the ranks of the cities that have declared themselves to be “sanctuary cities for the unborn.”
Texas Senator Charles Perry (Texas Senate District 23), Texas Representative Dustin Burrows (House District 83), and Texas Representative John Frullo (House District 84) are urging the Mayor and City Council of Lubbock (population 278,831) to enact a sanctuary cities ordinance similar to those enacted in other pro-life cities throughout the state in an effort to thwart Planned Parenthood’s efforts to open a new abortion facility in Lubbock.
On August 25th, 2020, in a letter addressed to Mayor Dan Pope, the three elected officials wrote, “It has come to the attention of many in our area that Planned Parenthood, the nation’s leading provider of abortion services, is planning to open a clinic in Lubbock between now and the end of the year. We respectfully request that the City of Lubbock take all necessary actions to prevent them from opening, since this organization profits off ending the lives of unborn children.”
The letter continues: “The battlefield to protect the unborn has shifted from the state to the local arena in recent years. For that reason, passing an ordinance designating Lubbock as a Sanctuary City for the Unborn will help to continue the Texas belief that life begins at conception, while also protecting the safety of mothers.”
The recommended Sanctuary City for the Unborn ordinance for the City of Lubbock states, “It shall be unlawful for any person to procure or perform an abortion of any type and at any stage of pregnancy in the City of Lubbock, Texas” and “It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly aid or abet an abortion that occurs in the City of Lubbock, Texas.” Abortion is defined by the Lubbock ordinance as “the act of using or prescribing an instrument, a drug, a medicine, or any other substance, device, or means with the intent to cause the death of an unborn child of a woman known to be pregnant.”
The ordinance makes clear that their use of the term “does not include birth-control devices or oral contraceptives.”
If passed by a majority vote of the Lubbock City Council, the ordinance would immediately outlaw abortion within the city limits of Lubbock, Texas. The Lubbock Ordinance contains two major enforcement mechanisms: the public enforcement mechanism and the private enforcement mechanism. The public enforcement mechanism is dependent upon the overturning of Roe v. Wade, while the private enforcement mechanism is not dependent upon the overturning of Roe v. Wade and is immediately enforceable.
Regarding the private enforcement mechanism, the ordinance states: “Any person, corporation, or entity that commits an unlawful act . . . other than the mother of the unborn child that has been aborted, shall be liable in tort to the unborn child’s mother, father, grandparents, siblings and half-siblings. The person or entity that committed the unlawful act shall be liable to each surviving relative of the aborted unborn child for: (a) Compensatory damages, including damages for emotional distress; (b) Punitive damages; and (c) Costs and attorneys’ fees.”
The ordinance is drafted in a manner that prevents abortion providers from suing the city to challenge the constitutionality of the abortion ban. Instead, the ordinance authorizes private citizens to bring lawsuits against abortion providers who violate the ordinance, and abortion providers must wait to assert their constitutional claims in response to those private lawsuits.
Katherine Cochran, a senior at Texas Tech University and secretary of Raiders Defending Life has been working with various churches and pro-life organizations in Lubbock to help see abortion outlawed within the city limits. On Thursday night, Cochran met with a director from Right to Life of East Texas and the leadership of Young Conservatives of Texas at Texas Tech. Cochran pleaded at the meeting, “Lubbock has the opportunity to decide whether or not it is going to allow the murder of innocent unborn babies within its borders. I certainly hope the City Council does the right thing. This ordinance is not political, it’s a matter of life or death.”
Senator Perry shared in his letter to Mayor Dan Pope and the Lubbock City Council that a highly qualified constitutional attorney has pledged to represent the city free of charge in any lawsuits that pro-abortion groups attempt to bring against the city.
Lubbock is not the only city in the Caprock region where citizens are discussing outlawing abortion. After the City of Whiteface (population 449) passed the ordinance in March, interest meetings have taken place in Morton (population 2,006), Levelland (population 14,582), and Shallowater (population 2,574). For more information about the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn initiative, along with a growing list of potential cities, visit www.
Mark Lee Dickson is a Director with Right to Life of East Texas, a Pastor of SovereignLOVE Church in Longview, Texas, and the founder of the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn initiative.
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