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COMMENTARY

SANCTUARY CITY!

False Objections: A Pretense for Immoral Actions

The latest excuses from Lubbock City to not protect the Unborn…

Many of us have been closely following the Sanctuary City for the Unborn movement here in Lubbock.  As we know, the Lubbock City Council has been presented an ordinance that, if passed, would legally and constitutionally outlaw abortion.  Recently, the City Council has released a set of objections to the ordinance.  These objections were formulated by Olson & Olson, a law firm from Houston, with ties to Planned Parenthood.

The objections are as follows:

  • Objection #1: The proposed ordinance, if enacted, would be void because it’s contrary to Texas Law.
  • Objection #2: The proposed ordinance conflicts with state law because the state regulates abortions, including who may perform them, where they may be performed, and when they may be performed, and the proposed ordinance imposes additional regulations inconsistent with those state regulations.
  • Objection #3: The Texas Constitution prohibits a city from passing an ordinance’ inconsistent with the laws of the state.”
  • Objection #4: The proposed ordinance conflicts with state law because it creates offenses for some actions permitted or licensed by the state. The Texas Constitution prohibits this.

Despite the objections raised by the City Council and Olson & Olson, the “Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn” ordinance, if enacted, would be consistent with Texas law. Under the section entitled “Findings,” the ordinance states, “The State of Texas has never repealed its pre-Roe v. Wade statutes that outlaw and criminalize abortion unless the mother’s life is in danger,” and, “After the Supreme Court announced its opinion in Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), the Texas legislature recodified and transferred its criminal prohibitions on abortion laws to articles 4512.1 through 4512.6 of the Revised Civil Statutes,” and, “The law of Texas, therefore, continues to define abortion as a criminal offense except when necessary to save the life of the mother. See West’s Texas Civil Statutes, Article 4512.1 (1974).”

The ordinance continues to state, “The Supreme Court’s judgment in Roe v. Wade did not cancel or formally revoke the Texas statutes that outlaw and criminalize abortion, and the judiciary has no power to erase a statute that it believes to be unconstitutional.” In support of this argument, Pidgeon v. Turner (Tex. 2017) is quoted, “When a court declares a law unconstitutional, the law remains in place unless and until the body that enacted it repeals it.”

The Lubbock ordinance continues, “The Supreme Court’s pronouncements in Roe v. Wade and subsequent cases may limit the ability of state officials to impose penalties on those who violate the Texas abortion statutes, but they do not veto or erase the statutes themselves, which continue to exist as the law of Texas until they are repealed by the legislature that enacted them. The state’s temporary inability to prosecute or punish those who violate its abortion statutes on account of Roe v. Wade does not change the fact that abortion is still defined as a criminal act under Texas law.”

The laws of the State of Texas are the basis for this ordinance. These laws have not been repealed. The ordinance states, “The Texas murder statute defines the crime of ‘murder’ to include any act that ‘intentionally or knowingly causes the death’ of ‘an unborn child at every stage of gestation from fertilization until birth.'” This can be found in Texas Penal Code § 19.02; Texas Penal Code § 1.07. The ordinance explains, “Although the statute exempts ‘lawful medical procedures’ from the definition of murder, see Texas Penal Code § 19.06(2), abortion is not a ‘lawful medical procedure’ under Texas law unless the life of the mother is in danger, see West’s Texas Civil Statutes, Article 4512.1 (1974).”

To say that the Lubbock ordinance is contrary to state law is not a good enough argument. Not when we are, left and right, quoting state law as our basis. According to the Texas Municipal League, “Home rule cities derive their power from the Constitution and look to the Legislature only as a limit on that authority and may do anything that is not specifically prohibited by state law.” The city of Lubbock is a “Home Rule” city. Nothing mentioned in this ordinance is inconsistent with the laws of the state of Texas.

Additionally, the 2019 Legislative Session gave us Senate Bill 22. This bill prohibited tax dollars from funding abortion providers and their affiliates at both the state and local level. This bill also contained an amendment that specifically clarified that the bill did not prohibit cities and counties from prohibiting abortion within their jurisdiction.

The Lubbock ordinance states, “The City Council of Lubbock finds it necessary to supplement these existing state-law prohibitions on abortion-murder with its own prohibitions on abortion, and to empower city officials and private citizens to enforce these prohibitions to the maximum extent permitted by state law and the Constitution. See Tex. Local Gov’t Code §§ 54.001(b)(1); 54.004.”

The Lubbock ordinance states, “To protect the health and welfare of all residents within the City of Lubbock, including the unborn, the City Council finds it necessary to outlaw abortion under city law and to establish penalties and remedies as provided in this ordinance. See Tex. Local Gov’t Code §§ 54.001(b)(1); 54.004.” This is in the city’s wheelhouse.

It is also worth considering the testimony of a pro-life leader in Waco, Texas, who has something to contribute to this discussion. John Pisciotta, a former professor from Baylor University and the Director of Pro-Life Waco, has known of the Olson families for many years and is very familiar with one of their attorneys. “The Olson & Olson law firm out of Houston has a bias regarding abortion. Art Pertile is involved in this counsel to the city of Lubbock. Pertile was the Waco city attorney in 2004 when Waco crafted an ordinance designed to shut down sidewalk counseling at the Waco Planned Parenthood abortion facility.” Pisciotta continued, “We challenged Pertile’s anti-pro-life ordinance at the state and federal levels. In 2006 the fifth circuit court of appeals struck down Pertile’s ordinance as An unconstitutional violation of free speech. The city of Waco had to pay $30,000 to our attorneys. Pertile has been wrong before!”

Senator Charles Perry, Representatives John Frullo, and Dustin Burrows all support this ordinance.  Additionally, former Solicitor General Jonathan Mitchell offered free legal counsel and representation for the City of Lubbock, of which the city has failed to take advantage. We have historical precedent, legal ability, and moral justification for this ordinance.

In a simple conclusion, Mayor and Councilmen, do what is right.

Submitted by the staff at the CritLarge.com. The majority of this article is an adapted and abridged version of an article originally published at CritLarge.com, where you can read the original and unedited article. 

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