The Lubbock County town of Slaton passed a local ordinance banning abortion on Monday, December 13, making it the 39th Texas town to join the “Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn” initiative.
Mayor Clifton Shaw told local media that no one opposed the ordinance during public comment. He and the city commissioners passed the ordinance 5 to 0.
Though Slaton does not have an abortion facility in city limits, Shaw said the ordinance has symbolic weight.
“Sea turtles get more respect than a human fetus does in this country,” Shaw said.
Although Slaton lacks an abortion facility, the ordinance itself does carry real legal effect. Similar to the Heartbeat Act, the ordinance authorizes citizens to sue anybody besides the mother herself that performs or aids an abortion within city limits.
Unlike the Heartbeat Act, Slaton’s ban applies during all stages of pregnancy.
As the “sanctuary” initiative has notched more towns, its creator Mark Lee Dickson has adjusted provisions in the ordinances that allow the city to directly punish violators as well. If the U.S. Supreme Court reverses its position that the 14th Amendment protects abortion, then Slaton and other member towns may directly impose penalties on ordinance violators. Aside from a Supreme Court ruling, the municipal government can only punish violators if a court declares that the city’s penalty will not unduly burden women seeking abortions or that the violator lacks third-party standing to assert the rights of women seeking abortions.
State Rep. Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock), whose district includes Slaton, praised the vote.
“Thank you for voting unanimously to protect LIFE by outlawing abortion within your city limits,” Burrows stated.
Previously, Burrows joined other West Texas state lawmakers in encouraging Lubbock to pass its own version of the ordinance in August. City leaders initially rejected the ordinance before voters passed it in a local election.
Lubbock became the first “sanctuary” with a working Planned Parenthood in city limits. The company sued the city over the ordinance but lost. Planned Parenthood has not performed abortions in Lubbock since the ordinance took effect.
Slaton city commissioners tabled the proposal in July before passing it 4 to 1 on first reading in November. Commissioner Benny Lopez said after the November meeting that he supported the motive behind the ordinance but questioned the wording.
The last Texas town to adopt a version of the “sanctuary” ordinance was Anson in November.
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