It is not only the biggest “Sanctuary City of the Unborn” in Texas to date, but also the first to have a working Planned Parenthood within city limits.
As of yet, the ordinance, which empowers the living kin of aborted children to sue their abortionists, has lain dormant and untested. Now courts may see unprecedented civil suits on behalf of children aborted in Lubbock.
The ordinance faced steep opposition from city leaders.
After the overturning of a state law scuttled their business in 2013, Planned Parenthood announced its return last year, prompting strong support for a “sanctuary” ordinance in the city from state lawmakers. City leaders balked, deferring to a Houston law firm that called the ordinance unconstitutional in a brief opinion.
A petition then forced the city council to a vote. Mayor Dan Pope and most of the council publicly expressed their personal pro-life beliefs but said adopting the ordinance would open the city up to a costly lawsuit. The measure failed unanimously.
In turn, voters got the chance to approve or reject the ban in a local May 1 election. They approved the abortion ban 64 to 36 percent in early voting, and the final vote totals had the ordinance passing with 62 percent support.
The ban is immediately effective through civil enforcement, similar to a heartbeat bill filed in the Texas legislature. By using lawsuits instead of government penalties, the ordinance may skirt the “undue burden” requirement of Roe v. Wade jurisprudence that prevents governments from substantially impeding the path to abortions.
However, the ordinance also enables government action under certain complex legal conditions again meant to dodge the obstacles to abortion restrictions erected by various court rulings.
Per the text of the ordinance, the City of Lubbock may not penalize abortionists “unless and until” Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey are overturned, a state or federal court rules that the penalty will not impose an “undue burden” on women seeking abortions, or a court rules that the person that committed the abortion lacks third-party standing to assert the rights of abortion-seeking women in court.
The private enforcement section of the law allows the relatives of aborted children to sue those who procure, aid, or abet abortions — other than the mother. The mother herself may sue.
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