Texas Gets Another Anti-Abortion 'Sanctuary City,' This Time in Lubbock

Texas Republican legislators are stepping up efforts to chip away at abortion rights in the state.
Texas Republican legislators are stepping up efforts to chip away at abortion rights in the state. Lorie Shaull from Washington, United States, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons
When voters around Texas went to the polls over the weekend, Texas got another so-called anti-abortion "sanctuary city."

In Lubbock, some 345 miles northwest of Dallas, voters approved an ordinance that strives to make it illegal for abortions to be performed in the city, earning the praise of Republican lawmakers around the state.

With the vote, the city became one of around two dozen cities that have passed similar ordinances in recent years, according to the Texas Tribune. The proposal came less than a year after Planned Parenthood opened a facility in Lubbock.

Around 62.5% of 34,260 people who cast their ballots voted to approve the measure, which Lubbock’s City Council called the Sanctuary City for the Unborn ordinance, according to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.

The move comes at the tail end of a legislative session in which Republican lawmakers have pushed forward with bills seeking to criminalize abortion or peel back reproductive rights at large.

Following the vote, Jim Baxa of the anti-abortion group West Texas for Life praised the role local churches played in getting the ordinance passed on Saturday.

"The Church of Jesus Christ banded together, stepped up to their role, their God-given role, and said we're not going to let babies be killed in our city," Baxa said, as reported by the Avalanche-Journal.

Meanwhile, Republican officials and lawmakers celebrated the move. Texas GOP chairman Allen West praised voters in a statement.

"Lubbock has shown our Texas GOP legislators that the Republican Party of Texas Legislative Priority to abolish the murder of unborn babies in Texas is achievable," West said.

Jeff Leach, a Republican state representative from Plano, tweeted, “Great pro-life leadership in Lubbock!”
Not everyone in Texas thought highly of the vote, though.

Drucilla Tigner of the ACLU’s state chapter, which has sued cities over similar ordinances in the past, described the ordinances as "unconstitutional abortion bans," according to the Tribune.

“We are committed to expanding access to abortion and will provide abortion services when possible in Lubbock.” - Planned Parenthood

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Tigner said the group “will continue to fight to protect the fundamental rights of the people of Lubbock.”
Planned Parenthood told the Tribune, "We are committed to expanding access to abortion and will provide abortion services when possible in Lubbock."

On Twitter, the advocacy group Progress Texas spoke out ahead of the vote, describing the ordinance as “unconstitutional, unenforceable, [and] a cruel attack on Texans.”

According to the anti-abortion outfit Texas Right to Life, several cities that have passed similar ordinances are located in Northeast Texas, and two are located near Fort Worth.

This year, Texas state lawmakers have introduced bills that would drastically roll back reproductive rights, including one that would allow for the death penalty for doctors who provide abortions or individuals who have them.

Another bill would allow a court to appoint an attorney to represent a fetus or an embryo when a minor seeks to have an abortion without their parents’ involvement.

Yet another, a so-called “heartbeat” bill, would effectively ban abortion altogether by not allowing the procedure to take place once a heartbeat could be detected.
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Patrick Strickland is the news editor at the Dallas Observer. He's a former senior reporter at Al Jazeera English and has reported for the New York Review of Books, The Guardian, Politico EU and The New Republic, among others.