Abilene, Texas Law Would Ban Abortions, Make It a “Sanctuary City for the Unborn”

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Apr 11, 2022   |   4:33PM   |   Abilene, Texas

The City Council of Abilene, Texas plans to consider a Sanctuary City for the Unborn ordinance that would protect unborn babies by banning abortions during its meeting Thursday.

The Abilene Reporter-News reports the results of a pro-life petition to require action on the proposed ordinance and a first reading are on the city council agenda.

“It’s just the first reading,” City Manager Robert Hanna told the newspaper. “Any vote-taking will take place on the second reading, and there may not be a vote. If they don’t take any action, (the ordinance) goes to the voters.”

In March, pro-life residents of Abilene faced a delay in their effort to pass a Sanctuary City for the Unborn ordinance after city leaders said they did not collect enough valid signatures on a petition to prompt a vote, according to the newspaper.

Pro-lifers in Abilene submitted almost 10,000 petition signatures to the city in February, and they needed 6,483 signatures. However, Hanna said many signatures were invalid, and the total fell short by 563.

The city gave pro-life advocates 10 additional days to collect more signatures.

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If the city council does not act on the ordinance Thursday, Hannah said the proposal will be placed on the ballot for voters to decide in November.

The proposed Sanctuary City for the Unborn 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.

“Abortion is an act of violence that purposely and knowingly terminates an unborn human life,” the proposed ordinance states. Babies in the womb are “entitled to the full and equal protection of the laws that prohibit violence against other human beings.”

Mark Lee Dickson, director Right to Life of East Texas and founder of the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn initiative, said pro-lifers in Abilene took action because their city council did not.

“We always knew Abilene was going to be a difficult battle,” he told LifeNews.com in December. “This city is where Sarah Weddington (who represented ‘Jane Roe’ in Roe v. Wade) was born and where she went to college. Many people are seeing this effort as a way that Abilene can redeem history by being a city which helps bring an end to Roe v. Wade.”

To date, 47 cities in Texas, Nebraska, Ohio and Louisiana have passed Sanctuary City for the Unborn ordinances. However, two cities did repeal their ordinances: Mason, Ohio and Omaha, Texas.

Meanwhile, pro-life residents of San Angelo, Texas also are working to pass a pro-life ordinance by ballot measure this year.

Though abortion activists have threatened legal action, cities have been successful in court thus far.

In 2021, voters in Lubbock, Texas overwhelmingly approved a Sanctuary City for the Unborn ordinance on the ballot, and Planned Parenthood was forced to stop aborting unborn babies there. The abortion chain challenged the ordinance, but a judge threw out its lawsuit later that year. Then, in January, Planned Parenthood decided to drop its lawsuit completely in a major victory for life.

In 2020, the American Civil Liberties Union dropped another lawsuit challenging several Texas cities’ pro-life ordinances.

A growing grassroots movement is working to protect unborn babies at the city and county level.

Other cities and counties have been passing pro-life resolutions, which are statements of support but not enforceable law, that recognize unborn babies’ right to life. In Arkansas, 19 counties and 10 cities and towns have passed pro-life resolutions, according to Family Council of Arkansas. Several North Carolina counties passed pro-life resolutions recently, too.