Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author.
The City of Marquez, Texas (pop. 313), has become the 48th city in the nation (and the 43rd in Texas) to pass an enforceable ordinance outlawing abortion within its city limits. The Marquez Ordinance Outlawing Abortion, which was the first item on the agenda, was passed unanimously, with no one present speaking in opposition to the measure.
Prior to the vote, Mayor Stynette Clary recognized the measure to be preventative, as a way to be proactive in their community. Alderwoman Diane Bates made the motion to pass the ordinance with Alderman Cody Clary and Alderman Danny Rangel both seconding the motion to pass the ordinance at the same time.
The vote makes Marquez the fourth municipality in Leon County to pass an ordinance outlawing abortion. The first city in the county to outlaw abortion was the city of Centerville (pop. 892) followed by the small town of Leona (pop. 175), followed by the city of Jewett (pop. 1,250). So far, every city council which has voted in Leon County has been unanimous in their decision to outlaw abortion.
The effort to see abortion outlawed in Leon County began in summer 2019 when Centerville resident Carly Hickman heard about the City of Waskom (pop. 2,189) outlawing abortion. Hickman started to share throughout the community about her desire to see the cities of Leon County follow in the footsteps of Waskom and make sure abortion never became a reality in their cities. The first person to have signed the online petition to see abortion outlawed in Marquez was Kristy Steadman in May 2020 – a time when only 13 cities had outlawed abortion. Steadman described why she wanted to see abortion outlawed in her city in six short words: “It is murder, plain and simple.”
READ: How California could become a ‘sanctuary for the unborn’ instead of an abortion sanctuary
While Steadman had been the first to sign the petition, it was Marquez resident David Faske who reached out to the Mayor for the item to be added to the city council agenda. Faske had signed the online petition in May 2021 – a time when 29 cities had outlawed abortion. Faske shared, “There are people out there that want a baby, who can’t have one, who may have lost one. Who are we to not only take that opportunity away from them, but also to play God and murder a human being before they have a chance in life?”
Centerville had become the 33rd city in the U.S. to outlaw abortion (July 2021), Leona had become the 35th city in the U.S. to outlaw abortion (August 2021), Jewett had become the 44th city in the U.S. to outlaw abortion (February 2022), and now Marquez has become the 48th city in the U.S. to outlaw abortion (April 2022).
The Marquez Ordinance reads: “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 Marquez, Texas” and “It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly aid or abet an abortion that occurs in the City of Marquez, Texas.”
Abortion is defined by the 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 is clear that the term does not include birth control devices or oral contraceptives. The ordinance is also clear that the act is not an abortion if the act is done with the intent to “save the life or preserve the health of an unborn child” or “remove a dead, unborn child whose death was caused by accidental miscarriage” or “remove an ectopic pregnancy.”
In addition to outlawing abortion, the Marquez Ordinance also outlaws abortion-inducing drugs, stating, “It shall be unlawful for any person to possess or distribute abortion-inducing drugs in the City of Marquez, Texas.” The Ordinance defines “abortion-inducing drugs” as “mifepristone, misoprostol, and any drug or medication that is used to terminate the life of an unborn child.”
The Marquez Ordinance contains both public and private enforcement mechanisms. The public enforcement mechanism establishes fines against the abortionist and anyone who aids and abets the abortionist for any abortion which takes place within the city limits of Marquez. The ordinance is clear that these fines cannot be imposed unless it is determined by a state or federal court that the individual seeking to impose the penalty upon the one who committed the unlawful act will not create an “undue burden” on women seeking abortions, a state or federal court determines the person, corportation, or entity who committed the unlawful act of abortion lacks standing to assert the third-party rights of women seeking abortions in court, or the Supreme Court overrules Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
While the public enforcement mechanism’s enforcement is based on other factors, the private enforcement mechanism is immediately enforceable. The Marquez Ordinance states, “Any person may bring a civil enforcement suit against a person or entity that commits or intends to commit an unlawful act.” This section is immediately enforceable and allows for anyone, including any relative of the unborn child, to sue the abortionist or anyone who aids and abets the abortionist for the death of the unborn child.
If Marquez faces a lawsuit as a result of the adoption of this ordinance, former Texas Solicitor General Jonathan F. Mitchell has agreed to represent the city of Marquez at no cost to the city or taxpayers for any litigation which may result over the passage of their ordinance outlawing abortion.
Marquez is the 18th city in Texas to outlaw abortion since Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit against the City of Lubbock was dismissed in Federal Court, and the 31st city in Texas to outlaw abortion since the ACLU withdrew its lawsuit against seven cities in East Texas.
Marquez is not expected to be the last city to outlaw abortion. Other cities in Leon County which could outlaw abortion within their city limits in the near future include the cities of Buffalo (pop. 1,984), Normangee (pop. 778), and Oakwood (pop. 510).
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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