Judge Dismisses Planned Parenthood Lawsuit Against Lubbock, Texas Abortion Ban

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Jun 2, 2021   |   11:25AM   |   Lubbock, Texas

In another victory for life, a federal judge threw out a lawsuit from Planned Parenthood late Tuesday that challenges an ordinance outlawing abortions in Lubbock, Texas.

The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reports U.S. District Judge James Wesley Hendrix dismissed the lawsuit, ruling that Planned Parenthood lacks jurisdiction to challenge the Sanctuary for the Unborn ordinance.

The ruling means Lubbock will remain abortion-free. Planned Parenthood, the only abortion facility in the city, stopped aborting unborn babies on Tuesday when the ordinance went into effect.

Lubbock is the largest city in the U.S. – and the first with an abortion facility – to pass an ordinance to protect unborn babies from abortion. Residents voted overwhelmingly in favor of the ordinance, which bans abortions within city limits and allows private citizens to sue abortionists for violating the ban.

In his ruling late Tuesday, the judge said he does not have the ability to stop private citizens from suing abortionists under the ordinance, according to the Avalanche-Journal.

“Because the ability to remedy a plaintiff’s injury through a favorable decision is a prerequisite to a plaintiff’s standing to sue—an ability absent here—the Court dismisses the case for lack of jurisdiction,” Hendrix wrote.

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He said the burden is on Planned Parenthood “to show an injury that is fairly traceable to the city’s conduct,” KJTV reports.

“The U.S. Constitution and binding precedent make clear that federal courts do not exist to render advisory opinions on a law’s validity. Rather, this Court is limited to resolving actual cases and controversies,” the judge continued.

The abortion chain argued that the ordinance is unconstitutional because “it violates federal constitutional rights, could not validly create civil liability between private parties, and is preempted by state law,” according to the court.

Earlier, Hendrix requested input from Texas Solicitor General Judd Stone on the matter. In a letter dated May 31 provided to LifeNews, Stone outlined his objections to Planned Parenthood’s claims.

“In our view, Planned Parenthood has not shown that Lubbock’s ordinance is inconsistent with state law,” Stone wrote.

Pro-life leaders rejoiced after learning of the legal victory late Tuesday.

“LIFE WINS! The case brought by Planned Parenthood against the City of Lubbock has been dismissed! We have said from the beginning that this ordinance is completely bulletproof from pre-enforcement lawsuits. The Court’s ruling today is an emphatic vindication of that,” said Mark Lee Dickson, director with Right To Life of East Texas and founder of the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn initiative.

In a statement earlier this week, Planned Parenthood said it will stop doing abortions in Lubbock until they are “legally permissible,” Everything Lubbock reports.

“The ban on abortion violates patients’ constitutional right to an abortion, and we’re in court to block this ban for Lubbock patients,” the statement read. “The Lubbock abortion ban creates significant barriers and the need to travel a minimum 600-mile round trip or out of state for patients seeking to obtain an abortion.”

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 Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit primarily focuses. It argues that the ordinance “imposes a substantial liability on anyone who procures, performs, aids or abets an abortion in Lubbock” and therefore places a substantial burden on women’s access to abortion.

Nearly 30 cities in Texas, Nebraska and Ohio 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. Last year, pro-lifers also won a victory when the American Civil Liberties Union dropped its lawsuit challenging Sanctuary for the Unborn ordinances in seven other Texas cities.