Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit Monday to block the city of Lubbock, Texas from banning abortions through its new Sanctuary for the Unborn ordinance.
On May 1, Lubbock became the largest city in the U.S. – and the first with an abortion facility – to pass an ordinance to protect unborn babies from abortion. The ordinance is scheduled to go into effect June 1.
In its lawsuit, Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas and its chief medical officer, G. Sealy Massingill, asked a federal judge to declare the ordinance invalid, arguing that it violates the U.S. Constitution and Texas law, Everything Lubbock reports.
“The Ordinance’s obvious purpose is to prevent Plaintiffs from providing abortions in Lubbock, depriving anyone in the Lubbock area who wants an abortion of access to a safe and legal abortion. And that will be its effect,” the lawsuit states.
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The Lubbock Sanctuary for the Unborn ordinance already may be saving lives. According to the local news, Planned Parenthood said in the lawsuit that it canceled abortion appointments in the city after the ordinance passed because it fears liability.
In response to the lawsuit, the City of Lubbock issued a statement promising to “vigorously defend” the ordinance in court, KTRE News 9 reports.
The Sanctuary for the Unborn ordinance recognizes that unborn babies are valuable human beings who deserve to be protected under the law. It prohibits abortions within city limits and outlines legal consequences for abortionists who abort unborn babies. It does not penalize women who seek or have abortions, and it does not prohibit abortions when the mother’s life is at risk.
The ordinance has both public and private enforcement mechanisms. The public enforcement mechanism establishes fines against the abortionist and anyone who helps with an abortion within city limits. However, it cannot be enforced until Roe v. Wade is overturned.
However, the private enforcement mechanism is immediate. It makes abortionists and those who help them “liable in tort to a surviving relative of the aborted unborn child, including the unborn child’s mother, father, grandparents, siblings or half-siblings,” meaning the abortionist can be sued for aborting the unborn child.
It is this liability on which the lawsuit primarily focuses.
KTRE News 9 reports more:
The suit claims Dr. Massingill, along with all other physicians and medical staff who participate in the provision of abortions at the Lubbock health center, are threatened with liability under the ordinance.
As the ordinance declares procuring, performing, aiding, or abetting abortion to be “unlawful” and “murder,” the complaint from Planned Parenthood states the ordinance “imposes substantial liability on anyone who procures, performs, aids, or abets an abortion in Lubbock,” which places a substantial obstacle in the path of obtaining an abortion.
Mark Lee Dickson, director with Right To Life of East Texas and founder of the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn initiative, described the lawsuit as “frivolous.”
“The federal courts have no ability to prevent private litigants from suing abortion providers under a duly enacted law, and there is nothing a federal court can do to stop private citizens from suing to enforce this ordinance,” Dickson said.
He pointed out that Planned Parenthood only sued Lubbock and not any of the other 27 cities that also passed Sanctuary for the Unborn ordinances.
“The city-wide abortion ban will take effect on June 1, regardless of what happens in this lawsuit, and any person who aids or abets an abortion in Lubbock will be facing immediate lawsuits,” Dickson said. “Planned Parenthood should conduct itself accordingly.”
On May 1, Lubbock residents approved the pro-life ordinance on the ballot, with 62.5 percent of the 34,260 votes cast in favor of the ordinance, The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reports.
After the vote, Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas predicted that the ordinance will create “significant barriers” to abortion – meaning it will help save unborn babies’ lives.
In an interview with the pro-abortion site Jezebel, Drucilla Tigner, ACLU of Texas political strategist, said, “There’s no doubt in my mind that this ordinance is going to have a chilling effect on abortion access in Lubbock.”
Nearly 30 cities in Texas and Nebraska have passed Sanctuary for the Unborn ordinances, and more are considering action this spring.
Abortion activists have tried to stop the Sanctuary for the Unborn effort, but, last year, pro-lifers won a victory when the American Civil Liberties Union dropped its lawsuit challenging Sanctuary for the Unborn ordinances in seven other Texas cities.