The latest addition, Little River-Academy — located in Central Texas and claiming a population of 2,048 — passed the ordinance unanimously on Thursday, January 12.
“Texas is a pro-life state. The fact that we have cities of all different sizes having passed local abortion bans sends a strong message that here in Texas we are serious about protecting unborn children and their mothers,” Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn Initiative leader Mark Lee Dickson told The Texan.
The ordinance is enforced by private legal action, similar to the Texas Heartbeat Act, which allows any Texan other than an officer or employee of a government entity to sue any person who performs, induces, or aids an abortion on a child with a detectable heartbeat. The city ordinance extends the protection to the time of conception rather than the time of a detectable heartbeat.
It prohibits abortion and aiding or abetting an abortion, abortion-inducing drugs, and abortions performed on the town’s residents regardless of where those abortions take place.
It also tackles the growing issue of human trafficking by prohibiting it at any stage within the city limits of Little River-Academy.
“It has long been known that abortion and human trafficking go hand in hand,” Dickson said about the provision.
“For years women who have found themselves to be the victims of the sex trafficking industry have been dehumanized by their captors who have forced them to have an abortion. We included the provision on human trafficking to do everything we could to protect women and prevent the forced abortions which result from this horrible industry.”
According to Dickson, the ordinance makes clear that it doesn’t apply to birth control devices or oral contraceptives. It also includes an affirmative defense that can be asserted by an abortion provider in the instance that a mother’s life is threatened.
Little River-Academy is the first municipality in Bell County to adopt a Sanctuary City for the Unborn ordinance. Dickson noted that there is also interest in Salado and Rogers, two other cities in Bell County.
In 2019, Waskom was the first city in Texas to adopt an ordinance outlawing abortion.
Texas has several laws in place that outlaw abortion. Some laws criminalizing abortion and carrying a potential prison sentence were in place before the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade and are still on the books. They became effective again following the court’s recent decision in Dobbs v. Jackson. Those laws include exceptions for the life of the mother.
Additionally, the Human Life Protection Act passed by the Texas Legislature in 2021 makes elective abortions a felony, carries a civil penalty, and revokes the license of medical personnel involved in performing elective abortions.
A list of Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn can be found below.
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Kim Roberts is a regional reporter for the Texan in the DFW metroplex area where she has lived for over twenty years. She has a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School and a Bachelor's in government from Angelo State University. In her free time, Kim home schools her daughter and coaches high school extemporaneous speaking and apologetics. She has been happily married to her husband for 23 years, has three wonderful children, and two dogs.