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COMMENTARY

West Texas Pro-Life Update

By Mitchell D. Cochran

Lubbock, TX

On December 15th, 2020, the Lubbock City Council passed a resolution accepting Lubbock citizens’ request to hold a referendum to vote for or against the proposed Sanctuary City for the Unborn Ordinance.

This ceremonial resolution began the next phase of the Sanctuary City movement in Lubbock.

While previous efforts focused on pressuring the city council to consider and pass the ordinance, now the pro-life advocates must reach out to individual voters within the city limits.

This referendum will be the culmination of many tireless hours of work on the part of the Initiating Committee.  The Lubbock City Council was reluctant even to consider the ordinance.  In fact, they only considered it once a group of concerned Lubbock citizens, including State Senator Charles Perry, gathered over 5,000 signatures for an official petition as per the Lubbock City Charter.  This petition forced the Council to discuss the ordinance and to host a public hearing.  After the City Council inevitably voted the ordinance down, the Initiating Committee of the petition had twenty days to file for a referendum with the city.

The ordinance was widely criticized by the City Council as being unconstitutional, which many councilmen claimed as their reason for voting against the ordinance. The City Council sought legal aid from Olson & Olson law firm, a firm with ties to Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider.  Contrarily, the Council refused the free legal counsel of Jonathan Mitchell, former Solicitor General of Texas and law clerk to the late Justice Scalia.

The City Council’s actions have cost and will cost the Lubbock taxpayers.  The price of Olson & Olson and the special election cost would have been avoided if the Council had voted in favor of the ordinance and accepted the free legal aid from Mr. Mitchell.

Now that the Lubbock City Council has passed a resolution to accept the referendum request, the voters of Lubbock, Texas, will have the opportunity to make their voices heard on May 1st, 2021. In the recent 2020 election cycle, the citizens of Lubbock County (which contains Lubbock City) voted around two-thirds in favor of Donald Trump over Joe Biden for president and in favor of Republican John Cornyn over Democrat MJ Hegar for senator.

Ackerly, TX

On December 1st, 2020, the small town of Ackerly, Texas, became the seventeenth city to pass the Sanctuary City for the Unborn ordinance.  As the ordinance was being considered, Mayor Scott Ragle said to the Ackerly councilmen, “All of y’all have taken an oath to protect this little town.” While some have criticized Ackerly’s move as pointless due to Ackerly’s low population (251), Ragle and the other city councilmen took preventative steps to avoid becoming the “Los Ybanez of abortions.” Los Ybanez is a tiny town (population 9) formed outside of Lamesa, Texas, to bypass Lamesa’s dry county laws.

Odessa, TX

Odessa, Texas, is on the radar for the Sanctuary City movement. In a runoff election on December 15th, 2020, Odessa citizens elected a new mayor, Javier Joven, and two new councilmen, all of whom have voiced support for the Sanctuary City Ordinance.  It is now projected that the Odessa council will have a majority in favor of the ordinance. Odessa and Midland, Texas, are the two prominent cities in the Permian Basin.  It is expected that the Sanctuary City Ordinance will be making its way to Midland for discussion soon.

A Final Note

During the Lubbock City hearing for the ordinance, many of the councilmen appealed to their oaths of office to defend the Constitution.  Seemingly, the Lubbock councilmen were able to find a right to abortion in the Constitution that the Ackerly councilmen were unable to see.  in fact, the Ackerly councilmen also appealed to their oaths. It seems that the Ackerly councilmen were focused on the right to life that current, but flawed, Supreme Court precedent denies.  However, the Lubbock councilmen believed that upholding the Constitution meant upholding bad precedent.

The Texas GOP has recently added the following statement to its platform: “We support the right of Texas municipalities to protect mothers and preborn children in their communities by passing enforceable city ordinances that ban abortions and abortion industry businesses within their city limits.”

Submitted by Mitchell D. Cochran. Mitchell is from Midland, Texas, and is a graduate of Lubbock Christian University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. He is currently attending Calvary University for his Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling. Mitchell currently resides in Lubbock, Texas, with his wife, Katherine.

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