IssuesLocal NewsStatewide NewsThree More East Texas Towns Pass “Sanctuary City for the Unborn” Ordinances

Ordinances to prohibit abortion are gaining traction in East Texas as three new towns have become "sanctuary cities for the unborn" in less than two weeks.
September 25, 2019
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Within two weeks, the small Texas towns of Joaquin, Tenaha, and Gilmer passed ordinances outlawing abortion within their respective city limits.

The three towns bring the number of “sanctuary cities for the unborn” in Texas to a total of six.

Waskom, which sits beside the Texas-Louisiana border near Shreveport, was the first to pass the ordinance in June.

The ordinance was similar to a resolution passed in Roswell, New Mexico earlier this year, which asserted that “innocent human life, including fetal life, must always be protected.”

Since then, similar resolutions have also been passed in several other cities and counties across the country.

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What makes the Waskom measure different — and the other Texas cities that have followed suit — is that the ordinance makes the prohibition of abortions city code, not simply an expression of the city council’s sentiment.

After Waskom, Mayor Christopher Perricone of Mineral Wells tried to introduce an ordinance to the city council he sits on, but that was blocked by several of the council members.

Earlier in September, the city councils in the Northeast Texas towns of Omaha and Naples passed the pro-life ordinance.

Last week, the city council of Joaquin unanimously passed the ordinance, “which declares abortion to be murder, prohibits abortion businesses from setting up shop within the town, and bans abortion at all stages within city limits,” according to Texas Right to Life.

“I believe our city government acted in a way that we feel most of the citizens of our community believe,” said Joaquin mayor Bill Baker.

Like the other Texas cities to pass the ordinance, voters in the county Joaquin sits in (Shelby County) are mostly Republican, with an overwhelming majority supportive of abolishing abortion in Texas, according to a poll included the 2018 Republican primary election.

Baker added that he hopes to see more grassroots support for the measure and for other small towns to adopt the ordinance.

On Monday night, Tenaha became the fifth Texas city to adopt the ordinance in a unanimous vote.

The city council of Tenaha, Texas.

In a video posted on Facebook, Amanda Treat, the city secretary for Tenaha, shared her own personal story in support of the ordinance. She says that when she was seventeen, she became pregnant and was given an option to have an abortion under her situation.

“I chose life and my son is now twenty-two years old,” Treat said. “Had I made the other choice, I would not have my child, I would not have the memories.”

Following Tenaha, Gilmer became the sixth “sanctuary city” in Texas on Tuesday in a 4-1 vote.

Unlike the other ordinances, the one passed in Gilmer does not ban “emergency contraception” that is often sold in stores.

Although the towns do not currently have any clinics that perform abortions, Mark Lee Dickson of Right to Life of East Texas told The Texan, “We want to keep it that way too.”

“The word ‘clinic’ is not a fitting name for these facilities,” Dickson said. “These are the extermination camps of our day. These ordinances simply say, ‘Not in our city. Here we want to see babies born, not killed.’”

The Texan reached out to Planned Parenthood for comment on the ordinances, but has not received a response at the time of publishing.

With Louisiana recently enacting a “heartbeat bill” to prohibit abortions after the heartbeat of a child can be detected, pro-life advocates in East Texas are also concerned that could prompt an abortion facility to move into the area.

More cities in the region could also adopt the ordinance soon, including the towns of Henderson, Mount Vernon, Mount Enterprise, and Greenville.

In July, pro-life advocates also urged Abilene to adopt the ordinance along with Gilmer.

“This ordinance being presented to city councils has the ability to, without a doubt, reveal to the community just where their elected officials stand on the issue of abortion and it’s constitutionality,” Dickson said.

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Daniel Friend

Daniel Friend

Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. While recently finishing his degree in Political Science from Azusa Pacific University, he also interned in the U.S. Senate and co-authored a book on C. S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy. In his spare time, he might be reading up on Dostoevsky or attempting to write a novel.