Four Texas towns voted over the last two weeks to become “sanctuary cities” for the unborn, seeking to outlaw abortion within their boundaries should the U.S. Supreme Court make it possible for them to do so.
The city councils of Gary, Big Spring, Colorado City, and Rusk, have all voted to approve the “sanctuary city” ordinance that has grown increasingly popular in East Texas.
In June 2019, the city of Waskom, Texas became the first in the nation to declare itself a “sanctuary city for the unborn.”
In Gary, the ordinance stated, in part, that the city “finds that the United States Constitution has established the right of self-governance for local municipalities.”
“[A] surgical or chemical abortion is the purposeful and intentional ending of a human life,” the ordinance continued, “and is murder ‘with malice aforethought’ since the baby in the womb has its own DNA, and at certain points in pregnancy has its own heartbeat and its own brainwaves.”
The Gary City Council asserted the U.S. Supreme Court “erred in Roe v. Wade … when it said that pregnant women have a constitutional right to abort their unborn children, as there is no language anywhere in the Constitution that even remotely suggests that abortion is a constitutional right.”
“We declare Gary, Texas to be a Sanctuary City for the Unborn,” the document stated. “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 Gary, Texas.”
The Gary City Council also banned the sale of emergency contraception, such as Plan B, within the city’s limits.
According to the Panola Watchman, Right to Life East Texas Executive Director Mark Lee Dickson urged the Gary City Council to adopt the ordinance, especially given the possibility of increased abortion restrictions in nearby Louisiana.
“We know that if the abortion industry shuts down in Louisiana, there has been talk in the past of them just crossing the border,” Dickson said. “There are two border cities that we know for sure were a target at one time, and two cities have already along the border passed this ordinance, and other cities throughout Texas because we want to make sure all of Texas is safe.”
Dickson said even though abortion is legal in the United States, cities have a right to ban the procedure within their boundaries:
Throughout cities and our country, there’s a lot of things that are outlawed that are legal, quote unquote. Engine breaks in certain cities, no engine break in this city. Well, that’s a legal action, but it’s prohibited in some areas. California … look at what they’re doing, they’re banning straws in certain cities, plastic straws. They’re banning cigarettes; in some areas we have cities that have said no selling cigarettes at all. And, so, outlawed smoking, etc. And, so, all these things prohibiting something, it’s what cities do, and they do it, why? To protect the health, welfare and often the sanity of their residents.
Dickson continued that neither Roe v. Wade nor Planned Parenthood v. Casey – the Supreme Court case that upheld Roe, stating laws cannot make obtaining an abortion an “undue burden” on women – assert that every city in the United States must offer abortions.
The ordinance, Dickson said, according to the Watchman, “does not violate Roe v. Wade.”
“It says that Roe v. Wade is an unjust court opinion, but it does not violate anything regarding that,” he explained. “But what it does say is if an abortion happens within the city limits of Gary, then the abortionist can be fined $2,000. Anyone who aids and abets the abortionist can also be fined $2,000. It does not penalize the mother at all.”
The city councils of Big Spring – population 28,000 – and Colorado City – population 4,000 – also voted in favor of similar ordinances, declaring themselves “sanctuaries of the unborn,” reported the Texas Tribune.
While the city council of Big Spring will need to vote again to finalize the ordinance, that of Colorado City is settled on it.
As the Tribune noted, after the town of Rusk also declared itself a sanctuary of the unborn two weeks ago, Colorado City is now the eighth local government to approve the ordinance.
According to the news report, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is exploring a possible legal challenge to the ordinances. In response to the threat, the towns of Mineral Wells, Omaha, and Jacksboro have reportedly backed away from approving similar measures.
Still, Dickson said his pro-life organization has “every intention of targeting every part of the state.”
“Every city, no matter what size, is valuable,” he said.