Leona, Texas just joined 34 other cities across the U.S. in voting to become a Sanctuary City for the Unborn.
On Monday, the Leona City Council passed a pro-life ordinance to prohibit abortions within city limits. Leona (population 175) is the smallest city in Texas to pass a Sanctuary City for the Unborn ordinance; city leaders hope their action will encourage others to act.
“As a member of the city’s council, it is a great privilege to be a part of such an important movement to save the lives of the unborn,” said Vice Mayor Mark Gray in a statement provided to LifeNews. “First Centerville, now Leona and prayerfully the other municipalities in our great Leon County. I call on and ask the other councils in our community to take up this great need.”
Mark Lee Dickson, director with Right to Life of East Texas and founder of the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn initiative, said the Leona ordinance – the 32nd in Texas and 35th in the U.S. – goes into effect immediately.
“The reality of cities discussing the possibility of outlawing abortion within their city limits will not be going away anytime soon. Cities across the United States, including the cities of Crawford, Texas and Mason, Ohio and Hillsdale, Michigan will all be discussing outlawing abortion in the near future,” Dickson said.
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The ordinance makes it “unlawful for any person to procure or perform an abortion of any type and at any stage of pregnancy in the City of Leona, Texas.” It also prohibits people from knowingly aiding or abetting an abortion within city limits. The ordinance treats abortion drugs as contraband. However, it does not prohibit birth control and allows exceptions if the mother’s life is at risk.
Catholic Bishop Joseph Strickland, of the Diocese of Tyler, praised Leona and other city leaders for working to protect unborn babies.
“I’m so grateful to all who have worked with Mark Lee Dickson and others to establish Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn in more than thirty communities,” Strickland said. “It is my prayer that every community in East Texas and beyond will join this grassroots effort to protect the unborn. Let’s make the USA a pro-life nation even if we have to do it one city at a time.”
The movement is growing, and it has been effective in protecting unborn babies from abortion. In May, voters in Lubbock, Texas overwhelmingly approved a Sanctuary City for the Unborn ordinance, and Planned Parenthood was forced to stop aborting unborn babies there. The abortion chain challenged the ordinance, but a judge threw out their lawsuit earlier this summer.
Abortion activists are worried, and they are ramping up efforts to oppose the effort in cities across the country.
“While the city council meeting in Leona, Texas was peaceful last night, the city council meeting in Mason, Ohio came to an abrupt end when Campus Safety advised the City of Mason that they should go ahead and adjourn the meeting,” Dickson told LifeNews. “Even though the Sanctuary City for the Unborn Ordinance was not on the City Council agenda, the Mason, Ohio council meeting was met with loud interruptions from pro-choice advocates seeking to prohibit any future discussion of the ordinance outlawing abortion.”
In July, abortion activists also protested when the commissioners of Manatee County, Florida passed a funding measure to support pregnant and parenting mothers in their community. Manatee County also is considering a Sanctuary for the Unborn ordinance.
Dickson encouraged anyone interested in a Sanctuary City for the Unborn ordinance in their city to sign an online petition at www.sanctuarycitiesfortheunbor
“Once we have enough signatures in an area, we make the necessary contacts, draft the necessary documents, and do our part to help the initiative move forward in an area,” he said.
To date, 32 cities in Texas, two in Nebraska and one in Ohio have passed pro-life ordinances to outlaw abortions. One city, Omaha, Texas, did repeal its ordinance and pass a non-enforceable pro-life resolution instead.
Though abortion activists have threatened legal action, the cities have been successful in court. In 2020, the American Civil Liberties Union dropped its lawsuit challenging several Texas cities’ pro-life ordinances.