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On Tuesday, December 13, the City Council of Odessa, Texas (pop. 125,413), cast their final votes on a second and final reading of the “Ordinance outlawing abortion, declaring Odessa a sanctuary city for the unborn.” The vote was 6-1 in favor of the ordinance. Voting in favor of the ordinance were Mayor Javier Joven, Council members Denise Swanner, Mark Matta, Chris Hanie, Greg Connell, and Gilbert Vasquez. The lone dissenter voting against the ordinance was Councilmember Steve Thompson.
The Odessa Ordinance, which is purely enforced through private civil enforcement, prohibits abortion and aiding or abetting an abortion within the city limits of Odessa, prohibits abortion-inducing drugs within the city limits of Odessa, prohibits abortions performed on Odessa residents regardless of where those abortions take place, prohibits human trafficking at any stage within the city limits of Odessa, and prohibits the City of Odessa from entering into any contract with any business which seeks to fund abortions – regardless of where those abortions may occur.
The ordinance also highlights the funds which are available to Texas residents who find themselves experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, referring them to services found at the Texas Pregnancy Care Network website at www.texaspregnancy.org.
In addition, the Odessa Ordinance goes out of its way to recognize federal laws which address the mailing of abortion inducing drugs and abortion paraphernalia. In the Eighth Finding the Odessa Ordinance recognizes:
Federal law imposes felony criminal liability on every person who ships or receives abortion pills or abortion-related paraphernalia in interstate or foreign commerce, see 18 U.S.C. §§ 1461–62, and all such acts are predicate offenses under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), see 18 U.S.C. § 1961;
And in the Ninth Finding the Odessa Ordinance recognizes:
(9) The members of the city council are 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 the city of Odessa. See U.S. Const. art. VI (“[T]he Laws of the United States . . . shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.”).
These findings are the basis for the Third Declaration of the Odessa Ordinance, which states:
We call upon every United States Attorney in the state of Texas, both present and future, to investigate and prosecute abortion providers and abortion-pill distribution networks under 18 U.S.C. §§ 1461–62 and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).
The ordinance, which is 17 pages in length, is similar to the ordinances passed in Abilene, Athens, Plainview, and San Angelo on November 8, 2022, and was written to address a post-Roe Odessa, putting into place the strongest protections possible for pregnant mothers and their unborn children.
Attorney Mike Seibel, who serves as General Counsel for Abortion On Trial in Albuquerque, New Mexico, praised the Odessa City Council for their action. Seibel shared, “New Mexico citizens are extremely overjoyed with the passage of the Odessa Ordinance. The ordinance will prevent abortionists in New Mexico from performing abortions on women from Odessa and thereby protect Odessa women from being mistreated by an unsafe and unregulated abortion industry in New Mexico Abortion businesses.”
Since the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn Initiative has been underway in several cities throughout New Mexico. On November 7, the city of Hobbs, New Mexico, became the first city in New Mexico to pass a Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn ordinance, and was followed by Lea County, New Mexico on December 8. Mayor Javier Joven and Councilman Chris Hanie have attended several city commission meetings, encouraging leaders in New Mexico to stand for life – just as they were looking forward to doing once their new council members were sworn in on November 22.
After the December 13 meeting, Mayor Javier Joven shared, “It took two years, but we finally did it. We are finally a ‘Sanctuary City for the Unborn.’”
Mayor Joven encouraged citizens everywhere, “If you do not have the votes on your city council to protect pregnant mothers and their unborn children by keeping abortion out of your community then do your part to get the right people into office who will protect pregnant mothers and their unborn children by keeping abortion out of your community.”
More cities in Texas, New Mexico, and states across the United States are expected to become “sanctuary cities for the unborn” in the near future. The Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn Initiative encourages anyone who wishes to see abortion kept out of their community to sign their online petition.