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COMMENTARY

Stop the Murder of Unborn Children

Lubbock’s Opportunity To Stop the Murder of Unborn Children Before It Happens 
By Mark Lee Dickson

The Mayor and City Council of Lubbock, Texas have an opportunity before them: to stop the murder of innocent children before it happens. Texas Senator Charles Perry (Texas Senate District 23), Texas Representative Dustin Burrows (House District 83), and Texas Representative John Frullo (House District 84) have asked the Mayor and City Council of the City of Lubbock (Population 278,831) to pass an ordinance which would outlaw abortion within the city limits and thereby make the city a Sanctuary City for the Unborn.

In a letter penned on August 25th, 2020 and addressed to Mayor Dan Pope, the state delegation wrote, “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 continued, “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.”

What Lubbock’s Senator and Representatives are asking is not anything new. In June of 2019 the City of Waskom (Population 2,189), located in East Texas, became the first city in the nation to pass an ordinance outlawing abortion within their city limits. The City of Waskom was given the idea, in part, from an amendment to Senate Bill 22 which passed during the 2019 Legislative Session. Senate Bill 22 was a bill which prohibited tax dollars from funding abortion providers and their affiliates at the state and local level. This bill included an amendment which specifically clarified that the bill did not prohibit cities and counties from prohibiting abortion within their jurisdiction. This bill was signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott.

The ordinance which was passed in Waskom outlawed abortion within their city limits, declared abortion to be murder, and protected Waskom from abortion providers setting up shop within their city limits. The ordinance did not defy any state or federal laws, but worked both state and federal laws and within the framework of Roe v. Wade and the subsequent decisions relating to abortion made by the Supreme Court of the United States.

As the movement of cities outlawing abortion in their cities began to grow Senators and Representatives across the State of Texas voiced their support including: Senator Bryan Hughes (Mineola), Representative Mike Lang (Granbury), Representative Jonathan Stickland (Bedford), Senator Charles Perry (Lubbock), Senator Donna Campbell (New Braunfels), Dawn Buckingham (Lakeway), Representative Dustin Burrows (Lubbock), Representative Dennis Paul (Houston), Representative Tony Tinderholdt (Arlington), Representative Kyle Biedermann (Fredericksburg), Representative Briscoe Cain (Houston), Representative Steve Toth (Woodlands), Representative Matt Schaefer (Tyler), Representative Cole Hefner (Mount Pleasant), and Representative John Frullo (Lubbock). State Republican Chair LTC Allen West (Garland) and Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller (Stephenville) have also voiced support of the Sanctuary City for the Unborn initiative.

When Waskom passed their ordinance outlawing abortion they did not just get the attention of State leaders, but they also got the attention of some of the nations leading religious leaders as well. Franklin Graham, son of the late Billy Graham and President of Samaritan’s Purse, wrote in a status on Facebook, “I’m with the city of Waskom, Texas! This town passed an ordinance banning abortion in their city limits and declaring that they are a ‘Sanctuary City for the Unborn’ . . . I applaud their goal and their boldness. Abortion is taking millions of lives every year and this needs to be changed. I hope that more cities will take the same stand to defend life.” Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, also shared his support as he wrote, “Breaking Pro-Life News – Waskom, a small city in Texas, unanimously declares itself a ‘sanctuary city for the unborn.’ Way to go, I hope more cities follow suit!” Rusty Thomas, National Director for Operation Save America said, “This is the first major shot across the bow to end the holocaust in America. The toothpaste is out of the tube and there is no going back.”

Since Waskom thirteen other cities have passed ordinances in Texas outlawing abortion within their city limits. The largest city to have outlawed abortion is the City of Big Spring (Population 28,864) located in West Texas. Commenting about the growing movement, State Representative Jonathan Stickland (House District 92) wrote “Last session my (wonderful) staff came up with an idea to offer an amendment to an obscure bill. It reaffirmed that cities could ban abortion, something that none of them had ever tried. My colleagues had no idea what we were doing at the time. I love seeing that little spark turn into a wildfire across Texas.”

The Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn ordinance for the City of Lubbock 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.”

The Lubbock Ordinance defines abortion as “the act of using or prescribing an instrument, a drug, a medicine, or any other substance, device, or means with the intent to cause the death of an unborn child of a woman known to be pregnant.” The ordinance makes clear that their use of the term “does not include birth-control devices or oral contraceptives.”

If passed by the Lubbock City Council the Lubbock Ordinance would immediately outlaw abortion under city law. The two major enforcement mechanisms of the Lubbock Ordinance are the public enforcement mechanism and the private enforcement mechanism. While the public enforcement mechanism is dependent upon the overturning of Roe v. Wade the private enforcement mechanism is immediately enforceable and is not dependent upon the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Regarding the private enforcement mechanism, the ordinance states: “Any person, corporation, or entity that commits an unlawful act . . . other than the mother of the unborn child that has been aborted, shall be liable in tort to the unborn child’s mother, father, grandparents, siblings and 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.”

Residents across Lubbock want to see the ordinance outlawing abortion passed in their city. Hannah Claxton, a junior at Texas Tech University, said she wants to see abortion outlawed in Lubbock because “Every human being has a basic right to life, including the unborn.” Claxton continued, ”Each life has value, whether we are presently able to see it or not. When a human being is killed, it is murder, including when that human is in utero.” Kelly Shehan, a registered nurse in Lubbock, also believes that her city should stand for life. “The lives of innocent unborn children need to be protected.” said Shehan. “I do not want to see a Planned Parenthood come to my home city.”

If the ordinance is enacted by the Lubbock City Council it will not just impact the City of Lubbock, but also the surrounding cities. Heath Morris, who works in Lubbock but lives in Levelland, shared his thoughts about the impact abortion has. “I have seen abortion affect too many people in my life, especially my family.” Morris said. “I have walked through the healing process with my wife from an abortion she had before we were together and I have seen the effects it had on her as a person. I do not want anyone to have to go through that pain and emptiness.” Heath’s wife, Kati Morris, had an abortion many years ago in Lubbock and that abortion had a major effect on her life. “For me it was just a 30 minute drive and it took the life of my child. I suffered many years of emotional turmoil from that 30 minute drive. God, for the sake of all of West Texas, I hope the City of Lubbock passes this ordinance.”

According to Senator Perry Attorney Jonathan F. Mitchell, who previously served as the Solicitor General of Texas, “has pledged to provide pro-bono legal defense should it be needed.”

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

Submitted by Mark Lee Dickson who is a 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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