On Sunday, October 16, the Abilene Reporter-News ran a story entitled, “Abilene obstetrician outlines concerns with ‘sanctuary city’ ordinance.” The story was part of a seven-part package looking at a variety of different angles of the SCFTU ordinance which Abilene voters will vote on in the November election. This particular story featured Abilene obstetrician Whitney Mascorro, who identifies both as pro-life and a Christian.

While it was not mentioned in the Abilene Reporter-News, Dr. Mascorro is also against the pre-Roe v. Wade Texas abortion statutes, the Texas Heartbeat Act, and the Human Life Protection Act.

In the article Dr. Mascorro accused Project Destiny Abilene, the PAC behind the campaign, of propagating “false claims” on their website that are “not based (in) medical truth.” According to Mascorro those claims include “increased levels of breast cancer and mental health problems in women and an elevated chance of pre-term birth.”

Project Destiny Abilene’s website states, “Women who’ve had an abortion are 30-40% more likely to have breast cancer, they have a 36% greater chance of pre-term birth and 81% chance of having mental health problems.”

The statement on the website actually comes from a letter submitted to the Abilene City Council on Thursday, April 28, 2022 by Dr. Karysse Trandem – an accomplished Obstetrician and Gynecologic Surgeon specializing in women facing unplanned pregnancies. Currently, Dr. Trandem serves as the National Medical Director for Save the Storks and the CEO and International Medical Director for Canopy Global Foundation.

Her letter given to the Abilene City Council included six published studies by 24 different medical professionals relating to the connection between abortion and breast cancer, three published studies by 21 different medical professionals relating to the connection between abortion and pre-term birth, three published studies by 5 different medical professionals relating to the connection between abortion and psychological damage, and one published study by 2 medical professionals relating to the connection between abortion and uterine damage. Yet, Dr. Mascorro simply dismisses the statement made on Project Destiny Abilene’s website which was taken from Dr. Trandem’s letter as “false claims.” that are “not based (in) medical truth.”

The second concern mentioned in the article was that the ordinance would require physicians to uphold current standards of care or face “serious legal consequences.” Is it such a bad thing for there to be “serious legal consequences” for physicians to uphold current standards of care? Let’s consider the facts: Regardless of what happens November 8 in Abilene, Dr. Mascorro has an obligation to obey every law on abortion in the State of Texas – including the pre-Roe v. Wade Texas abortion statutes, the Texas Heartbeat Act, and the Human Life Protection Act. If Dr. Mascorro is already following those laws, she has nothing to fear from the passage of the proposed SCFTU Ordinance in the city of Abilene. If Dr. Mascorro is violating those laws, then she is risking penalties from the State laws far greater than any of the penalties proposed in the SCFTU ordinance.

In explaining her second concern Dr. Mascorro states, “These are not just civil laws at this point. This would be a felony.” The Abilene SCFTU Ordinance does not make abortion a felony in the city of Abilene. Abortion was actually made a felony long time ago in Abilene by the pre-Roe v. Wade statutes which criminalize abortion – which came back into effect after the overturning of Roe v. Wade. In fact, the only place in the ordinance where the word “felony” is used is under the section entitled “Findings” and is referencing these state laws which have never been repealed. The reference in the Abilene SCFTU Ordinance states, under Finding #7, “The law of Texas also imposes felony criminal liability on anyone who ‘furnishes the means for procuring an abortion knowing the purpose intended,’ see West’s Texas Civil Statutes, article 4512.2 (1974), as well as anyone who aids or abets an abortion performed in violation of Texas law, see Tex. Penal Code section 7.02.” 

I’m not sure what Dr. Mascorro means when she states that this ordinance “except for extreme scenarios, only takes into account the unborn life and not the mom who is pregnant.” The ordinance, which is clear that an “act is not an abortion if the act is done with the intent to: save the life or preserve the health of an unborn child; remove a dead, unborn child whose death was caused by accidental miscarriage; or remove an ectopic pregnancy” only allows for an abortion if “the abortion was in response to a life-threatening physical condition aggravated by, caused by, or arising from a pregnancy that, as certified by a physician, places the woman in danger of death or a serious risk of substantial impairment of a major bodily function unless an abortion is performed.” The ordinance takes both the life of the unborn child and the life of the mother into account – prioritizing both lives because both are patients worthy of receiving care

While Dr. Mascorro has been bothered by this ordinance, this exact same language can be found in 44 cities throughout the State of Texas which have passed SCFTU ordinances. OB-GYNs and a variety of other medical professionals in several of these cities have gone out of their way to help us pass these ordinances – being extremely supportive of this language. What makes these OB-GYNs and medical professionals different from Dr. Mascorro? Why does Dr. Mascorro, who claims to be pro-life, take a position so vastly different from these OB-GYNs and medical professionals who also claim to be pro-life?”

The third concern brought by Dr. Mascorro is that the ordinance is “vague.” Dr. Mascorro argues that the ordinance fails to outline “how much and how urgent the life-threatening complications have to be” as she spoke of scenarios where “medical intervention is done to prevent life threatening consequences.” According to Dr. Mascorro, if the sanctuary city ordinance passes, they will “not be able to do that . . . if it passes, according to the letter of the law.” Dr. Mascorro goes on to talk about a variety of different cases, all making it sound like women are going to die if this ordinance is passed and that she is going to get punished if she tries to be a hero.

Once again, Dr. Mascorro completely ignores the fact that (1) right now under our state laws, she cannot do what the Abilene SCFTU ordinance would prohibit her to do, and (2) many OB-GYNs throughout Texas see no problem with our state and local laws prohibiting abortion and their work remains unaffected by such laws.

Dr. Mascorro wrongly states, “according to the sanctuary city ordinance, we now can no longer induce moms that are pregnant with babies with lethal fetal anomalies” and that “according to the sanctuary city ordinance, they will just have to continue to be pregnant until they go into labor.” Later on Dr. Mascorro states, “according to the sanctuary city (ordinance), we will not be able to clearly induce these women unless there is an imminent medical emergency.”

This is just not true. Premature delivery is not an induced abortion. The American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists argue, “There is a night and day difference between induced abortion and separating a mother and her unborn child for the purposes of saving a mother’s life (preterm parturition).” AAPLOG continues, “There are times when separating the mother and her unborn child is necessary to save the life of the mother, even if the unborn child is too premature to live. In those tragic cases, if possible the life of the baby will be attempted to be preserved, and if not possible, the body of the unborn child is treated with respect, recognizing the humanity of the life which is lost in the separation. In contrast, the purpose of an induced abortion is to produce a dead baby. “

Dr. Mascorro’s last point of contention with the Abilene SCFTU Ordinance is that the ordinance creates a private cause of action which allows for any person, outside of government officials or employees, to bring a lawsuit against the abortionist or anyone who aids or abets the abortionist for the violation of any part of the ordinance.

Right now, although abortions are outlawed completely by the pre-Roe v. Wade Texas abortion statutes and the Human Life Protection Act, citizens can only bring a lawsuit against an abortionist if the abortion is performed on a child with a detectable heartbeat – as outlined in the Texas Heartbeat Act. If passed on November 8, the Abilene SCFTU ordinance would add the private enforcement mechanism which would allow lawsuits against anyone performing an abortion within the city limits of Abilene on any child from the point of conception to a detectable heartbeat.

To our knowledge no individual has ever sued another person for violating any of the SCFTU ordinances which have been enacted. Out of the cities which have passed the ordinances only one has had an abortion facility which was actively performing abortions at the time of the ordinance’s passage. That city, of course, was the City of Lubbock which passed the ordinance in a landslide election on May 1st, 2021. Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas had started performing abortions on April 15th, right before early voting began on April 19th. The Lubbock SCFTU ordinance did not go into effect until June 1, 2021.

Planned Parenthood brought a lawsuit on May 17 in an attempt to stop the ordinance from going into effect but that attempt failed and the case was dismissed in Federal Court. On May 31 a letter to Judge Hendrix from the Attorney General’s Office opined that the Lubbock Ordinance was consistent with State Law – both with and without the passage of the Texas Heartbeat Act. Even though Judge Hendrix did not rule until the night of June 1st, Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas started complying with the ordinance the morning of June 1st and has complied with the Lubbock SCFTU ordinance ever since. Because of their compliance with the law there has been no reason for anyone to file a lawsuit against an abortionist or anyone aiding or abetting an abortion.

If Planned Parenthood of Lubbock could comply with the law, and doctors in sanctuary cities for the unborn across Texas have been able to comply with the law, then why would we expect anything different from doctors across the city of Abilene?

Honestly, I am not convinced that Dr. Mascorro is really “pro-life.”  Dr. Mascorro has openly stood against not only the pre-Roe v. Wade statutes which criminalize abortion, but she also stands against the Texas Heartbeat Act, the Human Life Protection Act, and Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn ordinances which have been passed in 44 cities across the state of Texas. How can Dr. Mascorro be “pro-life” and be against the majority of the abortion bans which have been passed in the State of Texas?

Early voting in Abilene will start on Monday, October 24 and will last until Friday, November 4, with election day taking place on Tuesday, November 8. At that time citizens of Abilene will join citizens in Athens, Plainview, and San Angelo in determining if their cities will incorporate further restrictions on abortions as a part of their city code. When the citizens of these cities cast their vote I hope their vote is not cast based on the misinformation and fear spread by doctors like Dr. Mascorro.

This is a commentary published with the author’s permission. If you wish to submit a commentary to Texas Scorecard, please submit your article to submission@texasscorecard.com.

Mark Lee Dickson

Mark Lee Dickson is a director with Right to Life of East Texas, a pastor of SovereignLOVE Church in Longview, Texas, and the founder of the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn initiative.

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