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COMMENTARY

Concerning Misunderstandings About Outlawing Abortion:

A Response to Mayor Pro-Tem Jeff Griffith’s Comments on KFYO Mornings with Dave King and Matt Martin Regarding the Proposed Sanctuary City for the Unborn Ordinance for Lubbock, Texas 

By Mark Lee Dickson

Wednesday morning, on the KFYO Mornings with Dave King and Matt Martin show, Lubbock City Councilman and Mayor Pro-Tem Jeff Griffith was asked about the Sanctuary City for the Unborn Ordinance which was given to the Mayor and the Lubbock City Council by Senator Charles Perry, Representative Dustin Burrows, and Representative John Frullo.

During the interview Councilman Griffith appeared to have many misunderstandings about the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn ordinance, abortion jurisprudence, and the opportunity the State of Texas has given to cities throughout the great State of Texas.

Speaking of the ordinance Councilman Griffith told the host of KFYO Mornings, “What was sent to us was one that I think has been used in some very small communities in Texas.” At this time the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn ordinances, which have varied from city to city, have been passed in 14 cities across Texas. The largest city which has passed the enforceable ordinance is the City of Big Spring (Population 28,862), behind them are the cities Rusk (Population 5,618), Gilmer (Population 5,216), Colorado City (Population 4,149), and Waskom (Population 2,189). The remaining nine cities which outlawed abortion are smaller than Waskom, Texas. While some of these cities would be considered “very small” by Lubbock’s standards as the 11th largest city in Texas, the City of Big Spring is considered to be the 113th largest city in the State of Texas and is, by most people’s standards, would not be considered a “very small” city.

Councilman Griffith continued, “I understand it is a very passionate topic for people on both sides of this topic. But I think you have to understand, it’s federal law. When we are sworn into office we are sworn in to uphold the Constitution.”  This statement, in and of itself, merits the response of this article.

First off, Roe v. Wade is not federal law. Roe v. Wade is a Supreme Court opinion. This is why Presidential Candidate Joe Biden has said that, if elected, he would work to make Roe v. Wade federal law. Listen closely to what Rewire, a well known pro-abortion news website, says about Biden’s promise to “codifying Roe v. Wade into federal law.”

Rewire states, “Democrats’ call to codify Roe is simply not enough when it comes to protecting abortion rights . . . But it’s a place to start. Codifying Roe, if done properly, could be an important tool for reproductive rights advocates in challenging state-level abortion restrictions.” If Roe v. Wade was already a federal law then why is Presidential Candidate Joe Biden and Rewire wanting Roe v. Wade to be codified into federal law? Roe v. Wade is not federal law, but a wrongly decided Supreme Court opinion.

Secondly, the oath which Councilman Griffith took was to uphold the Constitution, not every opinion the Supreme Court has ever made. This July, after the Supreme Court of the United States ruled on June Medical v. Russo, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a fiery dissent stating that the “right to abortion” was unconstitutional “without a shred of support from the Constitution’s text.” Justice Thomas continued saying, “Our abortion precedents are grievously wrong and should be overruled . . . The idea that the Framers of the Fourteenth Amendment understood the Due Process Clause to protect a right to abortion is farcical.”

The Constitution itself is clear when it says, “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby.” What is the supreme law of the land? Not supreme court opinions, but the “Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States.” Roe v. Wade is not federal law and there is no ‘right to abortion’ in the Constitution. Furthermore, the Constitution is clear that it was established to “establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” What does the Constitution mean when it uses the phrase ‘our Posterity’? ‘Our Posterity’ speaks of those who come after us – our children and our grandchildren.

Suddenly Councilman Griffith’s claim that he was elected to uphold the Constitution merits a closer look. If Councilman Griffith has an obligation to uphold the Constitution and the Constitution specifically states that it exists to “establish justice . . . and secure the Blessings of Liberty to . . . our Posterity” and one of the Supreme Court Justices is saying that there is not a shred of evidence for the “right to abortion” within the Constitution then what is he to do?

Perhaps maybe Councilman Griffith is in disagreement with Justice Thomas. Perhaps he believes he has found the right to abortion in the Constitution. If this is the case I would love to know where he believes that right is found. Let us consider another question: What if Councilman Griffith is unable to find ‘the right to abortion’ in the Constitution but seeks to make decisions like the ‘right to abortion’ is in the Constitution? Is he then in violation of his oath of office to uphold the Constitution? These are questions worth asking for any elected official.

Justice Thomas has listed three “incorrect decisions” of the Supreme Court which he believes should be overturned: Obergefell v. Hodges, Dred Scott v. Sandford, and Roe v. Wade. It would be curious to hear from any elected officials if they believe that all or any one of those decisions of the Supreme Court were, in fact, wrong.

Thirdly, Councilman Griffith claimed that he was not looking at it from “pro-ife or abortion” but from “law.” The section of the Lubbock Ordinance entitled ‘Findings’ is very clear. Is any one of the “findings” inaccurate? Councilman Griffith’s oath of office includes upholding the laws of the State of Texas. Are the pre-Roe statutes still part of the laws of Texas or are they not? These are important questions.

The Center for Reproductive Rights, a global legal advocacy organization which seeks to advance abortion, has a very helpful website which gives their perspective at what would happen if Roe V. Wade fell. Under their section entitled “Solutions” they have a sub-section titled “Repeal abortion bans & restrictions.” This section states, “Abortion rights supporters should work to repeal abortion bans and restrictions. In states with pre-Roe laws criminalizing abortion, it is critical to expressly repeal those statutes so that states do not criminalize abortion if the Supreme Court limits Roe.” I believe that it is extremely noteworthy that those who are for the advancement of abortion are encouraging their supporters to work to repeal the pre-roe statutes. If these laws were not on the books there would be no effort to have them repealed. The fact that there is an effort only proves all the more that these laws do continue to exist on the books of several states, including the great State of Texas.

Fourthly, Councilman Griffith claimed, “As far as a city goes, this particular ordinance is not enforceable.” Councilman Griffith should reread both the Public Enforcement and the Private Enforcement sections of the ordinance very carefully. The proposed Lubbock Ordinance, like the other Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn ordinances, are enforceable. The Lubbock Ordinance has two major enforcement mechanisms: the public enforcement mechanism and the private enforcement mechanism. 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 Lubbock. The ordinance is clear that these fines cannot be imposed unless Roe v. Wade is overturned or unless a variety of different scenarios takes place. This is only one section of the ordinance and the enforceability of this one section is not immediate, but dependent upon other factors. Unlike the public enforcement mechanism, the private enforcement mechanism is immediately enforceable. Under the section entitled “Private Enforcement” the Lubbock Ordinance states, “Any person, corporation, or entity that commits an unlawful . . . other than the mother of the unborn child that has been aborted, shall be liable in tort to a surviving relative of the aborted unborn child, including the unborn child’s mother, father, grandparents, siblings or half-siblings. The person or entity that committed the unlawful act shall be liable to each surviving relative of the aborted unborn child for: (a) Compensatory damages, including damages for emotional distress; (b) Punitive damages; and (c) Costs and attorneys’ fees.” Section F-4 clearly states, “The citizen-suit  enforcement action . . . may be brought on or after the effective date of this ordinance.”

The ACLU has gone on record stating that this section of the ordinance, as it is found in other Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn ordinances, is immediately enforceable. In a lawsuit which was filed against seven Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn in late February, Texas Equal Access Fund and Lilith Fund for Reproductive Equality vs. City of Waskom et al the ACLU states that the private enforcement mechanism “creates a civil cause of action against a person or entity that procures, aids, or abets an abortion, making them ‘liable in tort to any surviving relative’ of the fetus. It is immediately enforceable.” The ACLU withdrew their lawsuit against seven Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn in late May. The lawsuit which was brought by the ACLU did not cost the cities or the taxpayers one cent and, to this day, abortion remains banned with this enforcement mechanism active in every city which enacted the ordinance.

Fifthly, Councilman Griffith said, “if Roe v. Wade were to ever get overturned the city can act within 72 hours and put in an ordinance which would have meaning. This ordinance, from my legal counsel, has no meaning.” Councilman Griffith is putting a lot of faith in his legal counsel and, unfortunately, his legal counsel is completely wrong. The enacting of the Lubbock Ordinance would be a deterrent to the murder of the unborn children in Lubbock, Texas because it would establish both immediate and future consequences for both abortionists and those who aid and abet the abortionist in the murder of an unborn child. To me, and to thousands of people across the City of Lubbock (not to mention those in the surrounding communities) this has meaning.

Furthermore, to say that the City of Lubbock could pass an ordinance in 72 hours does nothing TODAY about Planned Parenthood coming into Lubbock, Texas. John Seago, Legislative Director for Texas Right to Life, said, “The point of the Sanctuary City for the Unborn ordinance is to deter the abortion industry from coming into the community today. The ordinance is drafted so that Planned Parenthood would be taking a huge risk by ignoring the city’s policy and inviting civil liability immediately.”

The City of Lubbock cannot make laws for Lubbock County or for other cities in the county like Abernathy, Shallowater, or Wolfforth. The only laws that can be made by the City of Lubbock are laws for the City of Lubbock. If Planned Parenthood comes into Lubbock, Texas it is not a problem to be handled in our State’s Capitol, nor is it a problem to be handled in the United States Capitol. If Planned Parenthood comes into Lubbock it will be the City of Lubbock’s problem. The days of passing the buck to Austin or Washington, D.C. are over. The Texas Legislature has passed legislation which supports cities outlawing abortion within their jurisdiction.

The City of Lubbock has an obligation to protect the health and welfare of all residents within the City of Lubbock, including the unborn. For this reason, many throughout the City of Lubbock hope that their City Council will find it necessary to outlaw abortion under city law and establish penalties and remedies as provided in the proposed Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn ordinance for the City of Lubbock.

The proposed Lubbock ordinance states, “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” and “It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly aid or abet an abortion that occurs in the City of Lubbock, Texas.” If passed by a majority vote of the Lubbock City Council the enforceable ordinance would go into effect immediately.

Hopefully the ordinance will have Councilman Jeff Griffith’s vote. Lubbock residents can reach out to Councilman Jeff Griffith by e-mail at JGriffith@mylubbock.us or by phone at 806-775-2023.

For more information about the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn initiative, visit www.sanctuarycitiesfortheunborn.com

Submitted by Mark Lee Dickson, 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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