What comes next after Lubbock voted to become a “sanctuary city for the unborn”

On Saturday, voters in Lubbock overwhelmingly cast their ballots in favor of Proposition A, which would officially establish the city as “sanctuary city for the unborn” and ban abortion. In the aftermath of the vote, Lubbock has turned into ground zero in the battle for abortion rights.

Proposition A would not only ban abortion in the city limits, it would also make it, “at all times and at all stages of pregnancy” murder unless it threatened the life of the mother. The ordinance would also make it possible for a relative of the aborted fetus to sue the mother, and anybody involved in obtaining an abortion.

Several smaller municipalities around the country have voted for similar “sanctuary city for the unborn” ordinances, but Lubbock is by far the largest municipality to approve of the measure. It’s also the only city to provide actual abortion services.

Last year, a Planned Parenthood clinic re-opened in Lubbock after closing in 2013 following a slew of anti-abortion regulations that passed in Texas. The clinic began offering abortion services just a few days ago before early voting started in Lubbock.

In the leadup to the vote, legal scholars warned about the ramifications of a measure that defies the U.S. Constitution. In November of last year, the Lubbock city council actually unanimously voted down the same “sanctuary city for the unborn” ordinance in a 7-0 decision.

Anti-choice activists, largely organized by the Texas Right to Life PAC, were not deterred. After the decision in November, they obtained enough signatures to require Lubbock to hold a citywide election.

Lubbock mayor Dan Pope provided a statement after the sanctuary city vote saying that the ordinance will likely go into effect on June 1. There are several organizations, however, that are attempting to nullify the ordinance before that date.

On Saturday, the ACLU of Texas issued a statement vowing to challenge the ordinance. “The ACLU has a long history of challenging unconstitutional abortion bans and will continue to fight to protect the fundamental rights of the people of Lubbock,” said Drucilla Tigner, the Policy and Advocacy Strategist at the ACLU of Texas.

Texas Signal also contacted Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, which distributed the following advisory: “The Lubbock ordinance approved on May 1, 2021 establishes an abortion ban for Lubbock residents, creating significant barriers and the need to travel a minimum 600 mile round trip or out of state to obtain an abortion. Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas is carefully reviewing the impact of the ordinance, and will make decisions soon regarding the availability of abortion services in Lubbock. Access to healthcare services, including abortion, should not be determined by someone’s zip code, especially when these restrictions will disproportionately impact low income women and women of color. We remain committed to advocating for access to abortion for any Texan, including here in Lubbock.”

Texas has long been at the forefront of challenging the legal right to abortion. Tomorrow, the state house will hear two high-priority anti-choice bills for Republicans in the legislature, including one bill that is essentially a six-week abortion ban.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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