The city council adopted the ordinance unanimously. In addition to banning abortion citywide, the ordinance declares the city to be a “sanctuary city for the unborn,” admitting Shallowater into a group of towns that have passed similar ordinances.
While the ordinances vary from town to town, all versions authorize citizens to sue anybody that performs or aids an abortion in city limits besides the mother herself. Procedures meant to save the mother’s life that result in the child’s death do not violate the ordinance.
The ordinance also allows the City of Shallowater to directly punish violators if certain legal standards are met. Local government officials cannot threaten penalties “unless and until” the Supreme Court reverses Roe v. Wade, a court declares that the penalty would not impose an undue burden on women seeking abortions, or a court rules that the violator lacks standing to assert the rights of women seeking abortions.
The mother cannot be penalized.
Shallowater’s consideration of the ordinance drew the attention of state lawmakers Sen. Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) and Rep. Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock), who penned a letter encouraging the counsel to adopt the ban.
Burrows congratulated city leaders on passing the ordinance.
“I’m excited to see a unanimous vote by the Shallowater City Council supporting an ordinance outlawing abortion. This is cause for celebration and sends a clear signal that the rights of the unborn will be upheld and defended,” Burrows wrote in a statement.
At the meeting, Burrows noted that the Texas Heartbeat Act authorizes cities to restrict abortion more stringently than the state, an observation also included in the ordinance.
Texans in several other cities are also attempting to pass abortion bans through the citizen petition process. With slight variations from place to place, this process starts with a petition that prompts the city council to consider the proposal if enough signatures are gathered. If the city council rejects the proposal, then it can go before the voters in a citywide election.
Plainview, in neighboring Hale County, met last night to set an election for November 8 for citizens to vote on a similar ordinance.
The city council of Lindale will also consider its own ordinance on Thursday night. If the council rejects the proposal, it will go to the voters.
After initially failing to gather enough signatures, the Abilene activists working to pass the ban were notified this week by the city that their petition is valid, according to Mark Lee Dickson, founder of the “Santuary Cities for the Unborn” initiative, and Abilene pastor Scott Beard, a member of the citizen committee leading the petition process. The city council will likely hear the final reading of the ordinance and take a vote on April 28.
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