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Judge tosses Planned Parenthood's lawsuit against largest 'sanctuary city for the unborn' in US

Planned Parenthood
A sign hangs above a Planned Parenthood clinic on May 18, 2018, in Chicago, Illinois. |

A federal judge has dismissed Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit seeking to invalidate an ordinance outlawing abortion in a major Texas city, arguing a "lack of jurisdiction."

Judge James Wesley Hendrix of the Northern District of Texas, appointed to the bench by former President Donald Trump, tossed the lawsuit filed on behalf of the abortion provider against an ordinance banning abortion in the city of Lubbock.

“Because the ability to remedy a plaintiff’s injury through a favorable decision is a prerequisite to a plaintiff’s standing to sue — an ability absent here — the Court dismisses the case for lack of jurisdiction,” Hendrix said in his Tuesday night ruling, as reported by The Texas Tribune. 

Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas filed a lawsuit against Lubbock, asking a federal judge to declare the voter-approved ordinance outlawing most abortions within the city limits except for cases when a woman's life is at risk unconstitutional. 

The ruling comes after oral arguments were heard Friday in Hendrix's court during which he expressed reservations about the scope of his authority over the ordinance, The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reported.

In response to Hendrix’s decision, the city of Lubbock released a statement acknowledging that “the City has reviewed the June 1 Court Order in the litigation challenging Lubbock’s Sanctuary City of the Unborn ordinance and is pleased with the result.”

Praising the judge’s “thorough and well-reasoned opinion,” the city vowed to “vigorously defend the ordinance in any litigation that may be filed.”

Hendrix’s ruling follows Planned Parenthood’s announcement that it will no longer perform abortions at its Lubbock facility.

In a statement released Tuesday, Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, the Texas affiliate of the nation's largest abortion provider, which operates a clinic in the city, indicated that “Abortion services will be provided when legally permissible.”

The announcement comes after Lubbock’s abortion ban, approved by more than 62% of the city’s voters, went into effect Tuesday, making the town of over 250,000 residents the largest “sanctuary city for the unborn” in the U.S.

The abortion provider chastised the ordinance for creating “significant barriers and the need to travel a minimum 600-mile round trip or out of state for patients seeking to obtain an abortion.” 

“Due to the controversial ordinance passed on May 1, Lubbock residents are currently required to travel to access a safe, legal abortion,” said Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas CEO Ken Lambrecht. “This ban on abortions provides no exemptions, even in cases of rape or incest. The ban on abortion violates patients’ constitutional right to an abortion and we’re in court to block this ban for Lubbock patients.”

Planned Parenthood opened up a clinic in Lubbock, the 11th largest city in Texas, last year.

As the organization noted in its lawsuit, a “health center operated in Lubbock by a separate Planned Parenthood entity was forced to close” in 2013 “following the State’s imposition of a series of state funding cuts and abortion restrictions.”

Shortly after the abortion provider announced its intentions to open a new facility in Lubbock, Republican lawmakers representing the city in the Texas state legislature urged Lubbock Mayor Dan Pope, also a Republican, to “take all necessary actions to prevent them from opening.”

Additionally, the lawmakers called on Pope to enact an ordinance making Lubbock a sanctuary city for the unborn. When city officials unanimously opposed the idea, pro-life advocacy organizations successfully pushed to put the issue before the voters in a referendum, which passed on May 1. 

While the overwhelming majority of the sanctuary cities for the unborn are located in Texas, the movement has recently spread to other states.

In addition to two cities in Nebraska, Lebanon, Ohio, passed an ordinance declaring itself a sanctuary city for the unborn last month, making it the first city in the Buckeye State to enact the ban.

Twenty-eight cities have declared themselves sanctuary cities for the unborn, and more than three dozen cities in Texas and Florida are considering banning abortion within the city limits. 

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: ryan.foley@christianpost.com

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