Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this guest post are solely those of the guest author.
Goliad County in Texas (pop. 7,012) has outlawed abortion and abortion trafficking within the unincorporated area of their county. The passage makes the county the second county in Texas to pass such an ordinance – following Mitchell County, Texas. Goliad County is now the 52nd political subdivision in Texas, and the 71st political subdivision in the nation, to have passed a Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn ordinance prohibiting abortion within their jurisdiction.
The ordinance, which was placed on the agenda by County Judge Mike Bennett, was passed in a unanimous 4-0 vote by Precinct 1 Commissioner Kenneth Edward, Precinct 2 Commissioner David Young, Precinct 3 Commissioner Kirby Brumby, and Precinct 4 Commissioner Kevin Fagg.
While counties in Texas are limited in what ordinances they are able to pass, the State of Texas has recently passed a provision allowing counties to outlaw and prohibit abortion and to establish penalties and remedies against those who perform or enable unlawful abortions. Texas Government Code § 311.036(b), which was passed during the 87th Legislative Session, reads, “A statute may not be construed to restrict a political subdivision from regulating or prohibiting abortion in a manner that is at least as stringent as the laws of this state unless the statute explicitly states that political subdivisions are prohibited from regulating or prohibiting abortion in the manner described by the statute.”
In addition to prohibiting abortion and the aiding and abetting of abortions within the unincorporated area of Goliad County, the ordinance prohibits the performing of elective abortions and the aiding or abetting of abortions that are performed on residents of the unincorporated area of Goliad County “regardless of the location of the abortion, regardless of the law in the jurisdiction where the abortion occurred, and regardless of whether the person knew or should have known that the abortion was performed or induced on a resident of the unincorporated area of Goliad County.”
The ordinance also prohibits abortion-inducing drugs within the unincorporated area of Goliad County, prohibits the transport and disposal of aborted fetal remains from any abortion provider within the unincorporated area of Goliad County, prohibits criminal organizations from operating within the unincorporated area of Goliad County, and prohibits abortion trafficking by making it unlawful “for any person to knowingly transport any individual for the purpose of providing or obtaining an elective abortion, regardless of where the elective abortion will occur.”
The abortion trafficking provision, which only applies if the transportation of such individual “begins, ends, or passes through the unincorporated area of Goliad County,” makes it illegal for anyone to use the sections of Hwy 59, Hwy 183, Hwy 239, Hwy 119, and all sections of all other roads found in the unincorporated area of Goliad County for the purpose of abortion trafficking.
This means that people who live within Goliad County will not be allowed to drive people out of Goliad County who are seeking to obtain an elective abortion in another state – as such actions would be considered abortion trafficking. This provision also means that those who are transporting women from other parts of Texas, who are seeking to obtain an elective abortion in another state, cannot pass through Goliad County – as those actions would also be considered abortion trafficking.
The ordinance, which is purely enforced by the creation of a private right of action, allows for any person (except for Goliad County or their employees) to bring a civil action against any person or entity that violates or intends to violate the ordinance.
Like all previous ‘Sanctuary City for the Unborn’ Ordinances, the Goliad County Ordinance does not allow for any lawsuit to be filed against the mother of the unborn child, but only allows for actions to be taken against those who are assisting her in the killing of her child — when they cross the unincorporated area of Goliad County.
Patrick Von Dohlen, Goliad Native and co-founder of the San Antonio Family Association, shared, “This day will be a day to remember Goliad again! ‘Remember Goliad!’ was integral to the battle cry of Texas and the Texan victory at the Battle of San Jacinto when Texas won its freedom from Mexico and its tyrannical dictator, Presidente General Santa Anna, who was an abuser of women and children.”
Von Dohlen continued, “Today, five Texas men on the County Commissioners Court exhibited their faith in God and valiant courage to outlaw abortion in Goliad County. Goliad will be remembered again, but this time not for who was massacred here but who was saved from being massacred. Goliad County and its residents will now officially help protect young girls from being sexually trafficked and many children won’t be murdered through abortion….”
Upon hearing the news, Representative Geanie W. Morrison shared, “I am proud of Goliad County for protecting LIFE.”
The effort to outlaw abortion trafficking in cities and counties across Texas has received much support from elected officials across the State of Texas. One of the documents received by the Goliad County Commission, prior to their meeting, was a letter from senators and representatives across Texas. The letter read:
While it is true that abortion is outlawed in the entire State of Texas, from the point of conception, our work is far from over. Right now, throughout the State of Texas, women are being trafficked across our borders by abortion traffickers funded by abortion trafficking organizations still operating in our state. As a result, these women are being abused and traumatized by abortion across our Texas-New Mexico border and sent back to Texas for our cities and counties to deal with the aftermath taking place in our homes, our schools, our churches, and our hospitals. The Sanctuary for the Unborn ordinances seek to protect these institutions by putting safeguards in place to protect men, women, and their children for years to come. These ordinances, which seek to close as many loopholes as possible, do not penalize women who seek or undergo abortions, but places the penalty on the party who most deserves it — the abortionist and the industry profiting from the unjust procedure, including abortion traffickers.
While we intend to do our part to keep our strong pro-life protections for mothers and their unborn children, we believe it will help for cities and counties to do their part as well. As state elected officials who are trusted by Pro-Life Texans to stand for life at every available opportunity, we believe this is a viable and crucial opportunity for local governments to protect their most vulnerable members. We look forward to partnering with you as we seek to defend innocent human life at every level of government.
Those who signed the letter, dated August 21, 2023, included Representatives Dustin Burrows (HD 83), Carl Tepper (HD 84), Jeff Leach (HD 67), Jared Patterson (HD 106), Briscoe Cain (HD 128), Greg Bonnen (HD 24), James Frank (HD 69), Cole Heffner (HD 5), Stephanie Klick (HD 91), Ellen Troxclair (HD 19), and Senators Charles Perry (SD 28) and Mayes Middleton (SD 11). After the letter was initially released, more elected officials have asked to have their name added to the letter, including Representatives Matt Schaefer (HD 6), Carrie Isaac (HD 73), Geanie W. Morrison (HD 30), and Senators Bryan Hughes (SD 1) and Lois Kolkhorst (SD 18).
On the morning of August 29, 2023, Goliad County Judge Mike Bennett released an official statement about the passage of their ordinance, stating: “the Goliad County Commissioners Court passed an ordinance that designated Goliad County as a sanctuary County for the unborn. We as a court believe that all have the right to life and pledge that we will stand firm for that right. I encourage every county in Texas to join us in the effort to protect the unborn.”
Goliad County is not expected to be the last county in Texas to consider a ‘Sanctuary County for the Unborn’ ordinance. Just hours prior to Goliad County’s passage of their ordinance outlawing abortion trafficking, the County Commissioners of Mason County, Texas voted 4-0 to consider passage of a ‘Sanctuary County for the Unborn’ ordinance at their next commission meeting.
Editor’s Note: This post originally stated September instead of August. The guest author and editor regret the error.