Abortion Rights Get a Win in Texas

A small Texas town unanimously voted against a proposed ordinance to declare itself a Sanctuary City for the Unborn on Thursday.

Following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in 2022, leaving individual states to choose their own legal status on abortion, Texas enacted one of the strictest abortion bans in the United States. Texas’ ban, which does not have exceptions for rape, incest or medical needs, goes into effect as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.

However, since the measures were put into effect, cities across Texas have considered and passed ordinances, declaring themselves Sanctuary City for the Unborn. The ordinance is a continued strategy by conservative activists to further restrict abortion, which allows private citizens to sue anyone who provides or “aids or abets” an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy.

On Thursday, the Clarendon City Council voted 3-0 against the proposed ordinance to declare itself a sanctuary city.

Abortion Rights Protest
Protestors demonstrate at the March for Reproductive Rights organized by Women’s March L.A. on April 15, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. A small Texas town unanimously voted against a proposed ordinance to declare itself a…

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The Clarendon Enterprise, the city’s newspaper, wrote in a Facebook comment on Thursday that the decision came as “city council members said they believe it is not a city issue and that state law already covers this issue.”

The proposed ordinance would not only have prohibited abortion within the city limits but would extend the ban to residents of Clarendon regardless of where the procedure is performed. It would also have restricted the sale and possession of what the ordinance calls “abortion-inducing drugs” withing the city.

In addition, while Clarendon sits about halfway between Amarillo and the Texas-Oklahoma border, roughly 60 miles from each, the ordinance would also aim to deter people from traveling through Clarendon to access abortion services. Amarillo is traversed by major highways that connect Texas to New Mexico, where abortion is legal.

In response to the vote, American Civil Liberties Union of Texas took to X, formerly Twitter, to celebrate the vote, calling it a “win for reproductive rights,” and warned that Texans don’t want the government to control their bodies.

“A WIN FOR REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS: A small Texas town voted against an anti-abortion ordinance. Texans don’t want the government trying to control our bodies,” ACLU Texas wrote on X.

Newsweek reached out to ACLU Texas via email Saturday afternoon for comment.

The ruling comes as 69 cities across the U.S. have already voted to declare themselves Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn, including 52 in Texas.

In October, the Lubbock County Commissioners Court passed an ordinance that made Lubbock County a Sanctuary County for the Unborn. It became the biggest jurisdiction yet to pass restrictions on abortion-related transportation.

Texas pastor Mark Lee Dickson began pushing communities to outlaw abortion by declaring themselves “sanctuary cities for the unborn” in 2019.

Newsweek reached out to Dickson via email Saturday afternoon for comment.

In a previous statement to Newsweek about Lubbock’s ordinance, Dickson said travel-related restrictions on abortion are worthy of being placed in every state.

“This ordinance does not interfere with anyone’s right to travel — neither the born or the unborn. This ordinance prohibits ‘abortion trafficking,’ which like sex trafficking, is a great evil in our country worthy of being abolished in every single state in America. The ordinance is enforceable through the private enforcement mechanism which has proven its success in both the Lubbock City Ordinance and the Texas Heartbeat Act. This is how the ordinance is enforced,” the statement said.

However, in response to Lubbock’s passed ordinance, Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas warned in a press release emailed to Newsweek that the ordinance adds another layer of complexity to an already challenging landscape for individuals seeking essential healthcare services.

“Texans already live under some of the most restrictive and dangerous abortion bans in the country, yet anti-abortion extremists continue to push additional unnecessary, confusing, and fear-inducing barriers to essential healthcare,” said Autumn Keiser, Spokesperson for Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas.