LUBBOCK, Texas- An ordinance calling for a complete ban on abortion within Lubbock, Texas’s city limits to create a “sanctuary city for the unborn” has gained national attention.
According to the ordinance, “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 Lubbock, Texas.” It will also “be unlawful for any person to knowingly aid or abet an abortion that occurs in the City of Lubbock, Texas.” Lubbock is the eleventh most populous city in Texas.
The introduction of the ordinance comes after Planned Parenthood, which hasn’t been in Lubbock since 2013, announced its return at the end of July, claiming to offer “affordable healthcare services” and “both surgical and medication abortion services…available at a later date.” The announcement, however, included no details about the facility’s location in the city, nor did it specify when it would open, listing only open job positions.
“In light of the history of harassment by extremists opposed to Planned Parenthood’s mission, it is our ongoing policy to not comment on health center projects for security reasons until they are completed. Additional information, including health center opening date, location, and list of health services, will be shared when finalized,” the announcement read.
After the announcement, a petition by state Sen. Charles Perry circulated the city and state, calling for people to “send a clear message that the abortion industry should not set up shop in our backyard.”
“Unborn children should have the right to live and Planned Parenthood profits off ending their lives. This is unacceptable,” the petition states.
In late August, Sen. Perry (R-23) and Texas Reps. Dustin Burrows (R-83) and John Frullo (R-84) wrote a letter to Lubbock Mayor Dan Pope asking him and the Lubbock City Council to stop Planned Parenthood’s return to the city and enact an ordinance that bans abortions from occurring within city limits.
“It has come to the attention of many in our area that Planned Parenthood, the nation’s leading provider of abortion services, is planning to open a clinic in Lubbock between now and the end of the year. We respectfully request that the City of Lubbock take all necessary actions to prevent them from opening, since this organization profits off ending the lives of unborn children,” the letter read. “The battlefield to protect the unborn has shifted from the state to the local arena in recent years. For that reason, passing an ordinance designating Lubbock as a Sanctuary City for the Unborn will help to continue the Texas belief that life begins at conception, while also protecting the safety of mothers.”
A pro-life rally, with more than 200 people in attendance, was held in support of the ordinance outside of a city council meeting on Tuesday. Perry and Right to Life of East Texas Director Mark Dickson, who penned the ordinance, also gave a press conference and invited faith leaders from around the city to weigh in on Wednesday about the letter and the call for a “sanctuary city for the unborn.” More than 900 people were in attendance.
“All those stories in the Scriptures teach us that if there’s no righteous people left, the city will perish. This is the issue of our lifetime and it is something that I don’t think the country as a whole understands the effect of what has happened,” Perry said, urging the crowd to consider their faith when advocating for the lives of the unborn.
“This opportunity for the city of Lubbock,” Dickson added. “They have the ability to decide when they put that on the agenda are babies going to be murdered in Lubbock, Texas, or are we going to stop it?”
According to both Perry and Dickson, the ordinance was written in a way to abide by the current legal standards set by the state. It does not place an “undue burden” on women, as previously outlined in Supreme Court cases because it only applies within city limits.
“Right now there are zero abortions happening within the city limits of Lubbock, Texas. If this ordinance were passed today, how is it creating an undue burden for women seeking an abortion when there’s zero abortions happening here right now?” Dickson pointed out. “That is how it stands within the confines of Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. We can do this.”
“We are on good legal standing to have this conversation,” Perry added. “But it will not come without a battle.”
Despite skepticism by some that the “public enforcement” of the ordinance with penalties such as the $2,000 fine cannot be enforced on an abortionist or anyone who aids him unless Roe v. Wade is overturned, Dickson pointed out that the “private enforcement” of the ordinance allows for family members to sue abortionists for damages.
“If an unborn child was killed by abortion within the city limits of Lubbock, then any family member of that unborn child’s can bring a lawsuit against the abortionist, and anyone who aids and abets the abortion,” Dickson explained.
While the Lubbock City Council nor the Mayor Dan Pope have not formally responded to the ordinance proposal, Perry and others are hopeful.
“If nothing else, I hope we can have an honest dialogue about what it is what it isn’t and what the consequences can be,” Perry said. “At the end of the day, you have to make a decision. Are you for life or are you not?”
The Federalist reached out to Pope asking the status of the ordinance and if the city council has added it to the docket, but he did not respond for comment by press time.
According to Dickson, since 2019, 14 cities in Texas have become “sanctuary cities” by banning abortions within their city limits. In the past, the American Civil Liberties Union has attempted to sue these cities and condemn their ordinances as unconstitutional, but both ACLU of Texas and ACLU National withdrew their lawsuits in May after amendments and modifications secured the cities’ legal standings as “sanctuary cities for the unborn.”