Ordinances to declare towns “sanctuary cities for the unborn”—that is, declaring abortion illegal within city limits—are beginning to be introduced in municipalities across Texas.
This week, city councils in the towns of Gilmer and Abilene were encouraged to adopt such resolutions at their meetings on Tuesday and Thursday, respectively.
During the time set aside for public comments at the meetings, several citizens spoke out to encourage each city to consider ordinances establishing a sanctuary for the unborn.
The comments did not place the item on either council’s agenda for formal consideration. That will need to be done by the city managers or council members.
Charles Byrn, a resident of Abilene, led the call on the city council to establish a sanctuary in his hometown.
“I think we need to be a shining city for the state of Texas and end abortion,” Byrn told the council. “The next step is to get it on the agenda and pass it.”
The Texan spoke with Mayor Tim Marshall of Gilmer, a small East Texas town in Upshur County. He said he had no objection to consideration of a similar proposal in his town, but did not want to enact it on a “knee-jerk” reaction.
Marshall said the council would need to take into consideration what the citizens of Gilmer want to do.
One of the people who voiced concern at the meeting on Tuesday was Mark Lee Dickson, the director of East Texas Right to Life.
Dickson previously led the movement prompting a successful adoption of the pro-life ordinance in Waskom.
In June, the city council of Waskom voted unanimously to declare the town a sanctuary for the unborn. The small Texas town was the first in the state to pass such a resolution.
More recently, Mayor Christopher Perricone of Mineral Wells proposed a similar ordinance to his city council. However, the council blocked a vote to move forward with a formal discussion of the resolution in a 5-2 decision.
Council members in opposition to that measure said that they did not want to put the city at risk of a lawsuit.
The Mineral Wells Chamber of Commerce also argued against the ordinance on the claim that it would drive businesses away from the city.
However, the Waskom Chamber of Commerce told The Texan that they were not aware of any businesses leaving or threatening to leave the town after their “sanctuary city” ordinance passed last month.
Although there are not currently abortion providers in Waskom, Mineral Wells, Gilmer, or Abilene, pro-life advocates want to prevent any from being established, particularly in Abilene.
Byrn told the city council he was concerned about a $9 million grant that Planned Parenthood received to open two abortion clinics in West Texas. He said that Abilene is one of the potential cities the organization is considering.
Dickson told The Texan that he thought there would eventually be a legal challenge to the ordinances declaring sanctuaries for the unborn. “But here’s the thing,” Dickson said, “whenever there is, I’m sure no pro-choice organization wants that, because this has the ability to overturn Roe v. Wade.”
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Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.