Texas town votes to become largest 'sanctuary city for the unborn,' ban abortion in most cases

Supporters of the push to make Lubbock, Texas a 'sanctuary city for the unborn' gather at a watch party held at Trinity Church in Lubbock, Texas on May 1, 2021.
Supporters of the push to make Lubbock, Texas a "sanctuary city for the unborn" gather at a watch party held at Trinity Church in Lubbock, Texas on May 1, 2021. | Mark Lee Dickson

One of the largest cities in Texas has become the most populous city in the country thus far to outlaw abortion within the city’s limits and become a “sanctuary city for the unborn.”

In a referendum Saturday, a supermajority of voters in the city of Lubbock, Texas, voted to approve an ordinance making it “unlawful for any person to procure or perform an abortion of any type and at any stage of pregnancy in the City of Lubbock, Texas.” 

More than 62% of voters in the city of more than 250,000 residents voted to approve the referendum, while less than 38% voted against it.

In an interview with The Christian Post, Mark Lee Dickson, the founder of the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn movement that lobbies nationwide to pass ordinances banning abortion at the local level, cheered Saturday’s “landslide” victory for the pro-life movement.

“I think it says a lot because Lubbock is the 11th-most populated city in the state of Texas and the 83rd most populated city in the United States of America,” he said. 

The push to make Lubbock a sanctuary city for the unborn was instigated by Planned Parenthood’s plans to build an abortion facility in the West Texas city. 

Dickson told CP that “Planned Parenthood did come into Lubbock, they opened up, they started performing abortions on April 15, just a few weeks ago. And Planned Parenthood also poured a whole lot of money into this election.”

“They … pushed a campaign … to … prevent this ordinance from being passed, and at the end of the day, they ended up losing that election,” he added. “Respectfully, I would congratulate them on their … campaign effort. But since this was a landslide election, it’s very obvious that the people of Lubbock have spoken. I am expecting that Planned Parenthood will obey … the laws of the city and … not perform abortions within the city limits of Lubbock, Texas.”

As Dickson explained, it was concern about a Planned Parenthood moving into another Texas city that launched the “sanctuary cities for the unborn” movement first place.

“There was an abortion facility in Shreveport, Louisiana, that at one time was looking at crossing the border to Waskom, Texas,” he said. “Waskom, Texas, is a small city that has … great churches, it has great restaurants, and I just felt like an abortion facility would be a great stain on that city because an abortion facility is a place that murders innocent children on a regular basis.”

“So, I reached out to the mayor, and he didn’t want an abortion facility coming into the city. So they decided to pass an ordinance outlawing abortion within the city limits,” Dickson continued.

Following Waskom’s lead, 22 Texas cities have passed similar ordinances: Naples, Joaquin, Tenaha, Gilmer, Westbrook, Rusk, Colorado City, Gary, Big Spring, Wells, Whiteface, East Mountain, New Home, Ackerly, Grapeland, Goldsmith, Carbon, Gorman, Murchison, Latexo, and now, Lubbock.

The Nebraska cities of Hayes Center and Blue Hill have also become sanctuary cities for the unborn.

“All cities at this point, with the exception of Lubbock, have outlawed abortion through their mayor and city council,” Dickson explained. “I think this is the appropriate way it needs to be done — through the mayor and the council the people have elected.”

The activist said that the referendum in Lubbock was “afforded by the Lubbock City Charter.”

“I’m glad that we had the opportunity to put it for a citywide vote,” he said. “But in normal circumstances, we shouldn’t have to do a citywide vote.”

“Now all these ordinances, I’ve been involved with the drafting of those,” he continued. “And so how this process works is that people in these cities have … expressed interest to see abortion outlawed, and I work with those residents in those cities and do my part to help them accomplish that goal.”

The referendum vote comes after the city council voted against the ordinance in November due to concerns that it could result in a lawsuit challenging the measure's constitutionality. 

The ordinance bans most abortions in the town, except in cases when a woman's life is at risk. The measure also allows family members of women who receive abortions to sue anyone who assisted, according to Reuters

It is unclear when the measure will take effect in Lubbock.

In May 2020, the ACLU sued seven cities that passed sanctuary for the unborn ordinances. According to Dickson, those cities were represented at no cost to taxpayers by Jonathan Mitchell, the former solicitor general for Texas.

“After three months, the ACLU withdrew their lawsuits, and so those lawsuits did not cost the cities or taxpayers anything, and abortion remains outlawed in every city that was sued,” he claimed. 

However, Dickson lamented that when the city of Omaha, Texas, received an open record request from the ACLU after outlawing abortion, “their attorney got scared and walked the ordinance back to a non-binding resolution.” 

After withdrawing the lawsuits, the ACLU claimed that the “seven cities we sued quickly backed down and revised their ordinances to allow pro-abortion organizations to operate within the cities and stop calling them 'criminal.'”

According to The Marshall News Messenger, the lawsuits were dropped after cities amended ordinances that explicitly criminalized the organizations.

The ACLU is mulling its legal options in Lubbock and believes the measure is unconstitutional as there are fears it could impact abortion access in West Texas as the city serves as a medical hub in the region. 

Dickson believes that pro-life activism has taken on new importance now that the federal government has come under complete control of the pro-choice Democratic Party.

Stressing the need to “do everything we can to stand up and be a voice for life for the sake of unborn children who are dying daily,” Dickson emphasized that the sanctuary cities for the unborn movement proves that “we can do things on the local level and we can get the job done.”

The referendum in Lubbock was not the only victory for the pro-life movement to come out of Texas on Saturday. 

In a special election to replace the late Republican Rep. Ron Wright, who formerly represented Texas’s 6th Congressional District, two Republicans advanced to the runoff election. That ensures that the seat will remain in the hands of the GOP. Democrats had hoped to flip the district, which has become increasingly competitive in presidential elections.

According to Daily Kos Elections, former President Donald Trump won the district by 3 percentage points in the 2020 presidential election, after winning it by more than 12 percentage points in 2016. 

Susan Wright, the widow of the late congressman, and Jake Ellzey will face off head-to-head after taking the top two spots in Saturday’s jungle primary.

The national pro-life grassroots organization Susan B. Anthony List endorsed Wright and cheered the results of Saturday’s election. 

“Susan’s outspoken advocacy for the unborn and their mothers, her strength of character and her extensive experience as a community leader make her deeply suited to represent the deeply pro-life state of Texas,” asserted SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser. 

“We are confident she will prevail over her opponent and look forward to seeing her stand up against the extreme pro-abortion Biden-Harris-Pelosi agenda in Washington, which is radically out of step with Texas values. Susan’s voice will be yet another outstanding addition to the historic class of pro-life women serving in Congress.”

As the SBA List has noted, the 117th U.S. Congress has a record 31 pro-life women serving in the U.S. House of Representatives. That number will rise to 32 if Wright is elected.

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