A group of Abilene citizens turned in over 10,000 petition signatures in support of an ordinance outlawing abortion to the city secretary this afternoon. If a valid number of these signatures are certified, the city council will have to consider the proposal, according to the city charter.
Then, if the council rejects the ordinance, it will go to the citizens in a municipal election.
Local pastor Scott Beard, a member of the committee that began the petition process, said they hauled in the signatures by the ream on a hand truck.
“It was a cool sight walking in with four big buckets, fifteen gallon bins of signatures. We had them on a dolly when we rolled them in,” Beard said.
The same process has been proceeding in other cities as well.
The City of Lindale recently certified a petition to outlaw abortion and scheduled a hearing for it on March 24. If the council rejects the petition at its next meeting, which will likely be April 5, then the ordinance will go to a general vote.
Plainview was the first town where activists did not seek regular passage through the council before pursuing a citywide vote. The founder of the “Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn” initiative, Mark Lee Dickson, said he already knew city attorney Matt Wade would strongly advise the council to avoid or reject the ordinance. Wade serves as a city attorney for several other cities as well as Plainview and has consistently advised city leadership to avoid the proposal.
After the City of San Angelo accepted a petition in support of an abortion ban, Mayor Brenda Gunter told the public that the ordinance would go to the November ballot, signaling that the council will reject it after the hearing scheduled on March 1.
The remark prompted Dickson and the local citizens involved in the effort to speculate that San Angelo city leadership violated the Open Meetings Act by deciding the fate of the ordinance outside of the public political process.
Gunter fired back, denying that city leadership has worked behind the scenes to push the proposal to the November ballot.
“I have said repeatedly from the very beginning when Mr. Mark Dickson showed up to my restaurant to have a discussion with me… I said to him then and I say it again. I want the voters, our citizens, to have an opportunity to vote on this issue,” Gunter said.
“We have not, I have not worked behind the scenes to get the outcome that I want. I have used the legal system to get a direction — meaning a vote of the council.”
Additionally, the East Texas town of Jewett outlawed abortion last week on February 15 by a unanimous city council vote, becoming the 40th city in Texas to pass a local abortion ban.
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