Guest Column

Sixth Texas county outlaws abortion and use of roads for ‘abortion trafficking’ 

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

On Monday, the Commissioners’ Court of Jack County, Texas, passed an ordinance outlawing abortion and abortion trafficking within the unincorporated area of Jack County. The ordinance was passed in a 5-0 vote by Commissioners Gary Oliver, Kenny Salazar, Henry Birdwell Jr., and Terry Ward, with Judge Brian Keith Umphress presiding over the meeting. 

The passage of the measure made Jack County the sixth county in Texas to outlaw abortion trafficking, following Mitchell, Goliad, Cochran, Lubbock, and Dawson Counties, and the 77th political subdivision to have outlawed abortion in the United States.

In addition to prohibiting elective abortions and the aiding or abetting of elective abortions within the unincorporated area of Jack County, the ordinance also prohibits the performing of an elective abortion and the aiding or abetting of an elective abortion performed on a resident of the unincorporated area of Jack 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 Jack County.”

Photo: Jack County Courthouse (Mark Lee Dickson)

The ordinance also prohibits abortion-inducing drugs within the unincorporated area of Jack County, prohibits the transport and disposal of aborted fetal remains from any abortion provider within the unincorporated area of Jack County, prohibits criminal organizations from operating within the unincorporated area of Jack 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” as long as such activity “begins, ends, or passes through the unincorporated area of Jack County.”

This means that it is now illegal for anyone to use the sections of U.S. Hwy 281, U.S. Hwy 380, State Hwy 59, State Hwy 114, State Hwy 148, State Hwy 199, and all sections of all other roads found in the unincorporated area of Jack County for the purpose of abortion trafficking. Because of this, those who live within Jack County are now prohibited from driving people out of Jack County who are seeking to obtain an elective abortion in another state – as such actions would be considered abortion trafficking. This also means that those who are transporting women from other parts of Texas, who are seeking to obtain an elective abortion in a state like Kansas, cannot legally pass through Jack County – as those actions would also be considered abortion trafficking.

Jack County’s Sanctuary County for the Unborn Ordinance, which was specifically labeled as a Safe Haven County for the Unborn, is enforced through the same private enforcement mechanism found in the Texas Heartbeat Act and 57 other local ordinances throughout the State of Texas. This private enforcement mechanism allows citizens to file lawsuits against those who are found in violation of the ordinance.

The 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 Jack County.

The presentation was made by Jack County resident Tayte Ward and a director from Right to Life of East Texas. Ward had met with the Judge and Commissioners over a period of three months. Ward shared, “Due to the passage of this ordinance and its implementation of the private enforcement mechanism, the same enforcement strategy within the Texas Heartbeat Act, power is given to private citizens. The father or grandparent of an unborn child in danger of being aborted out-of-state has the ability to threaten the abortion provider with a lawsuit and save that life.” Ward continued, “I feel that the opportunity this ordinance provides cannot be overstated. Jack County is known for being a conservative county, and I am glad to see our Judge and Commissioners stand for life by making sure this lifesaving pro-life law is in place in our county.”

Jack County resident Tayte Ward and Right to Life of East Texas Director Mark Lee Dickson take a picture with the Jack County Commissioners and Jack County Judge after the passage of the Sanctuary County for the Unborn Ordinance. (Photo: Mark Lee Dickson)

After the meeting, Judge Brian Keith Umphress praised his community, his county, and the leadership of his Commissioners. “I am so proud of our community and our county in making this decision today. It sets a standard. By us being bold in our faith and our belief of what is right, I hope that other communities will take the lead and feel comfortable that they are going to stand and be a voice for the unborn.” Judge Umphress continued, “We have an obligation to protect that right and protect those who have no voice. I am very proud of the Commissioner’s Court today and their actions to pass this ordinance that will protect the unborn.”

Weighing in on the passage of the ordinance, Commissioner Kenny Salazar shared, “I think today’s decision in Commissioners’ Court in Jack County was a very good decision to be made for the ones who cannot speak. I know ours is just a small part in the big picture, but every little part helps to make the big picture.”

Commissioner Terry Ward, who made the motion to pass the ordinance, shared, “I think it was the right decision.” 

The effort to see Texas political subdivisions outlaw abortion trafficking is supported by Senators and Representatives across Texas. The Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn initiative has now seen a total of 69 cities and 8 counties pass ordinances in 7 different states — all prohibiting abortion within their jurisdiction.

The DOJ put a pro-life grandmother in jail for protesting the killing of preborn children. Please take 30-seconds to TELL CONGRESS: STOP THE DOJ FROM TARGETING PRO-LIFE AMERICANS.

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