Since early June 2019, the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn (SCFTU) Initiative has been a part of the drafting of 65 city ordinances and 2 county ordinances across 6 different states (Texas, Nebraska, Ohio, Louisiana, Iowa, and New Mexico) which keep abortion out of communities. After the landmark ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization (2022) overturned Roe v. Wade (1973) and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), the initiative has become even more committed to passing ordinances in states which do not have total abortion bans – especially in border-communities targeted by the abortion industry.
The most recent example of this process was seen in the New Mexico cities of Hobbs (pop. 39,756) and Clovis (pop. 37,988). The cities of Hobbs and Clovis are both near the New-Mexico Texas border. The City of Hobbs is located 4 miles from the border, while the City of Clovis is located 9 miles from the border. After hearing from many of their constituents, the city leadership of both cities passed ordinances specifically crafted for their communities.
Unlike the explicit abortion ban ordinances which had been passed in cities throughout states like Texas and Nebraska, these ordinances would attempt to create an abortion-free community not by outlawing abortion, but by requiring compliance with federal abortion statutes – specifically 18 U.S.C. §§ 1461–1462, which prohibit the mailing and the receiving of abortion-inducing drugs and abortion paraphernalia. These “de facto abortion bans” would serve as a new model in the fight against abortion in states whose leadership or courts may be more opposed to restrictions on abortion access – states which some may refer to as more “blue” or “purple” than “red.”
As a result of the passage of these ordinances, abortion-provider Whole Woman’s Health abandoned their pursuit of moving their Texas operation from Austin, Fort Worth, McAllen, and McKinney to one of the border communities along the New Mexico-Texas border. Instead of opening a facility in Hobbs or Clovis, which required compliance to these federal abortion statutes, they decided to relocate to Albuquerque, New Mexico – about 320 miles away from Hobbs and about 220 miles away from Clovis.
Right now the SCFTU Initiative is placing their primary focus on three cities in three different time zones: Bristol, Virginia (EST), Danville, Illinois (CST), and West Wendover, Nevada (MST) – three cities of three different sizes, all having to discuss abortion access at the local level.
Bristol, Virginia (pop. 17,054)
When Tennessee passed a statewide abortion ban, Bristol Regional Women’s Center in Bristol, Tennessee (pop. 27,530) knew that their days were numbered. Knowing Tennessee’s abortion ban would go into effect late August 2022, the facility’s abortion provider reached out to Diane Derzis about opening an abortion facility less than a mile away, in their twin city of Bristol, Virginia, just across the Tennessee-Virginia border.
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In early June 2022, Derzis, whose Mississippi abortion facility was at the center of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization (2022) case before the Supreme Court of the United States, signed a lease to open an abortion facility in Bristol, Virginia. By late July 2022, after Roe v. Wade (1973) was overturned, Bristol Women’s Health opened to the public and started performing abortions.
In late October 2022, a zoning ordinance was introduced to the Bristol, Virginia City Council which would have prohibited any expansion of the new abortion facility as well as prevent any additional abortion facilities from coming into the community. While the ordinance was unanimously referred to the city’s Planning Committee for their consideration, the Planning Committee declined to advance the ordinance.
Since the Planning Committee declined to advance the ordinance, interest was lost at the City Council level. Since then, a new ordinance has made its way forward for which would not be subject to review by the Planning Committee. This ordinance comes from the SCFTU Initiative and requires compliance with federal abortion statutes.
According to Bristol Women’s Health’s website, the organization offers chemical abortions (abortion-inducing drugs) up to 11 weeks and surgical abortions up to 16 weeks. If the SCFTU ordinance were to pass in Bristol, Virginia, Bristol Women’s Health would be prohibited from mailing and receiving abortion-inducing drugs and any abortion-related paraphernalia – ending abortion services in Bristol, Virginia.
Danville, Illinois (pop. 28,787)
In mid-March 2023, McGhee Investment Group, LLC purchased a property in Danville, Illinois. McGhee Investment Group, LLC, was formed in early February 2023, and has Ladonna Prince from Indianapolis, Indiana as their registered agent. The address given by Prince for McGhee Investment Group, LLC is 3607 West 16th Street, Indianapolis, Indiana – which is the same address used for Clinic for Women – the abortion facility in Indianapolis, Indiana administered by Ladonna Prince. The location of the abortion facility in Danville, Illinois is 85 miles from Indianapolis, Indiana and 6 miles west of the Illinois-Indiana border.
Since the news broke about an abortion facility coming to Danville in early February, discussions have taken place among leaders in the community regarding the passage of an ordinance which would keep abortion out of the city limits. The ordinance crafted by the SCFTU Initiative, like the ordinance being considered in Bristol, Virginia, requires compliance with federal abortion laws.
According to the Clinic for Women’s website, the organization in Indiana currently offers chemical abortions (abortion-inducing drugs) up to 10 weeks and surgical abortions up to 13 weeks, 6 days. In August 2022, the State of Indiana passed a statewide abortion ban, allowing abortions in the cases of rape, incest, and lethal fetal anomalies. Several judges have issued injunctions against the enforcement of the law – allowing abortion providers across Indiana to continue providing their abortion services. While Indiana’s abortion restrictions are likely to stand in the end, the laws of the State of Illinois on abortion are far less restrictive – allowing abortions up to the point of viability.
If the SCFTU ordinance were to pass in Danville, Illinois, the new facility would be prohibited from mailing and receiving abortion-inducing drugs and any abortion-related paraphernalia.
West Wendover, Nevada (pop. 4,492)
In early January 2023, an abortion provider based in San Jose, California, submitted an “Application for Conditional Use Permit” to the City of West Wendover, Nevada. That abortion provider was Planned Parenthood Mar Monte and the permit they were requesting was for a new Planned Parenthood to be built at 1890 Pueblo Boulevard in the City of West Wendover, Nevada. This application, along with Planned Parenthood’s plans for the facility can be found in the West Wendover City Council agenda packet for their March 7, 2023 meeting.
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Planned Parenthood Mar Monte CEO Stacy Cross said that they “began planning the clinic sometime late last spring – around the time a draft of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade was published by Politico.” In the same article, the Salt Lake Tribune also reported that: “Cross said Planned Parenthood Mar Monte has land ready for purchase, a building plan approved by an architect and a construction company that would bring it to life.”
A hearing for the conditional use permit was scheduled for early February, but rescheduled by the applicant for early March. At that time Planned Parenthood Mar Monte made their case as to why the West Wendover City Council should grant them their conditional use permit. In the end, the West Wendover City Council voted 4-1 to deny Planned Parenthood Mar Monte their permit. However, the permit was not ultimately denied due to Mayor Jasie Holm vetoing the denial of the permit – merely forcing Planned Parenthood Mar Monte to restart the submission process.
While Planned Parenthood Mar Monte is currently safe under their state abortion laws in California, their effort to set up an abortion facility in Nevada appears to be the result of pro-life legislation passed in the State of Utah and the lack of pro-life legislation passed in the State of Nevada. The eastern edge of the City of West Wendover, Nevada is the stateline dividing Nevada and Utah.
The closest abortion facilities to West Wendover are found 115 miles away in Salt Lake City, Utah. Those three facilities being: Wasatch Women’s Center, Planned Parenthood-Salt Lake City, and Planned Parenthood-Metro Health Center. When Roe v. Wade (1973) was overturned in late June 2022, Utah’s trigger-ban went into effect prohibiting all abortions except for fatal fetal abnormalities, when the life of the mother is at risk, or in cases of rape or incest. Unfortunately, in July 2022, 3rd District Court Judge Andrew Stone issued an injunction – preventing the law from being enforced while the case was being litigated.
Because of the injunction, each abortion facility is currently performing chemical and surgical abortions (abortion-inducing drugs) up to a different stopping point within the allowed 18 week framework: Wasatch Women’s Center is administering abortion-inducing drugs up to 9 weeks and surgical abortions up to 13 weeks, 6 days; Planned Parenthood-Salt Lake City is just administering abortion-inducing drugs up to 11 weeks with no surgical abortions provided; and Planned Parenthood-Metro Health Center is administering abortion-inducing drugs up to 10 weeks and surgical abortions up to 18 weeks.
While a new law banning abortion facilities has been passed by the Utah legislature, that law is not set to go into effect until next year – forcing abortion providers in Utah and beyond to consider the future of abortion access across the region.
Since the council meeting in early March, concerned citizens from the community have been in contact with the SCFTU initiative and have received an ordinance drafted specifically for their community. The ordinance requires compliance with the federal abortion laws prohibiting the mailing and the receiving of abortion-inducing drugs and abortion paraphernalia. If the SCFTU ordinance were to pass in West Wendover, Nevada, Planned Parenthood would be prohibited from mailing and receiving abortion-inducing drugs and any abortion-related paraphernalia in the City of West Wendover, Nevada – and, as a result, abortion would be kept out of the gateway city to Nevada.
The end of Roe v. Wade (1973) did not end abortion in America, it merely returned the battle to the people and their representatives at every level of government: federal, state, county, and local. This makes the fight for the right to life as intense as it has ever been in America. Now is not the time to slow down and do less, now is the time to keep a steady pace and seek to do more. Now is the time to finish a good work which was prepared in advance that we might walk into – the end of abortion in every State in America.
Those who are interested in seeing the process begin in their city are encouraged to sign the online petition.
LifeNews Note: Mark Lee Dickson lives in Texas and serves as a Director with Right to Life of East Texas and the founder of the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn Initiative.