The Texas city of San Angelo soon could join more than 40 others across the U.S. in passing a Sanctuary City for the Unborn ordinance that protects unborn babies by banning abortions.
On Friday, city leaders determined that residents had collected enough signatures to prompt a city-wide vote on the pro-life ordinance, The San Angelo Standard-Times reports.
City Clerk Julia Antilley explained the next steps to the Standard-Times: First, the city council must publish the draft ordinance in the newspaper, then the council will schedule a public hearing to consider local residents’ opinions, and, after that, the measure will be placed on the ballot for voters’ approval.
The city council currently has a vacancy, with a special election scheduled to fill the seat, and Antilley said she did not know if the council will wait to move forward with the proposed ordinance until the seat is filled.
If approved by voters, the ordinance would protect unborn babies’ right to life by outlawing abortions in San Angelo.
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San Angelo does not have any abortion facilities, but the ordinance would be a preventative measure against one opening. Planned Parenthood closed its facility in the city in 2013.
Pro-life residents of Abilene, Texas also are working to pass a Sanctuary City for the Unborn ordinance by ballot measure this year.
“Outlawing abortion through the initiative process, which is allowed for by some city charters, should only be considered if the mayor and city council are not listening to the will of the majority. This is why the initiative process had to begin in San Angelo and Abilene,” said Mark Lee Dickson, director Right to Life of East Texas and founder of the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn initiative, last year.
To date, 43 cities in Texas, Nebraska and Ohio have passed Sanctuary City for the Unborn ordinances that outlaw abortions within city limits.
One in Lubbock, Texas passed by ballot initiative and led to Planned Parenthood stopping abortions there. The abortion chain challenged the ordinance, but a judge threw out its lawsuit over the summer. Then, earlier this month, Planned Parenthood decided to drop the lawsuit completely in a major victory for life.
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. It also prohibits “any person to knowingly aid or abet an abortion” and treats abortion-inducing drugs as contraband within the city limits.
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 in violation of the ordinance.
Though abortion activists have threatened legal action, the cities have been successful in court thus far. In 2020, the American Civil Liberties Union dropped its lawsuit challenging several Texas cities’ pro-life ordinances.
Dickson encouraged anyone interested in seeing a Sanctuary City for the Unborn ordinance pass in their city to visit www.