On November 8, citizens in Abilene (pop.124,407), Athens (pop. 13,121), Plainview (pop. 22,343), and San Angelo (pop. 101,612) cast their final votes on local abortion bans placed on their ballot through the citizen initiative petition process allowed for by their city charters. The ordinances, built upon the pre-Roe v. Wade statutes and the Texas Heartbeat Act, add further restrictions on abortion by prohibiting abortions performed on residents of their cities, regardless of where that abortion takes place.

Athens

The first city in Texas to outlaw abortion on election night was the city of Athens (pop. 13,121), located in Henderson County. The vote made Athens the 53rd city in the nation, and the 45th city in Texas, to pass an enforceable ordinance outlawing abortion within city limits. Athens is the fourth and largest city in Henderson County to pass an ordinance outlawing abortion; the first city to ban abortion in Henderson County was Murchison (pop. 606), followed by Poynor (pop. 314) and Brownsboro (pop. 1,036).

The results of the Athens vote was 58 percent for the ordinance and 42 percent against the ordinance, a difference of 16 points. The exact totals were 57.79 percent in favor of the ordinance’s passage and 42.20 percent against the ordinance’s passage. The breakdown was as follows:

For – 1,579 (Absentee – 84; Early Voting – 1,042; Election Day – 453)
Against – 1,153 (Absentee – 84; Early Voting – 731; Election Day – 338)
Total cast – 2,732 (Absentee – 168; Early Voting – 1,773; Election Day – 791).

The Athens ordinance explicitly condemns the legacy of Curtis Wayne Boyd, who killed more than 10,000 unborn children through illegal abortions in the late 1960s and opened up the first “legal” abortion facility in Texas after the 1973 ruling.

The first four findings of the Athens ordinance read:

The City of Athens finds that:

 

(1) Curtis Boyd, a notorious illegal abortionist during the 1960s and early 1970s, performed abortions in Athens, Texas, when abortion was a criminal offense in Texas and in most of the United States;

 

(2) The City Council is appalled that these violent and criminal acts occurred within city boundaries;

 

(3) Curtis Boyd openly boasts about the illegal abortions that he performed in Athens, Texas, see https://bit.ly/37YMUNr;

 

(4) The City Council of Athens, Texas, is determined to ensure that these murderous acts never again occur within city boundaries.

Athens resident Mistie Sharp stated, “I am forever grateful for the 18 churches that came together to fight for life in Athens. The righteous voices have been heard, and the curse of death is reversed! Athens will have a new legacy that promotes life, family, and unity!”

Attorney Mike Seibel, who serves as general counsel for Abortion On Trial, is glad that the Athens ordinance goes out of its way to address Athens’ past as it relates to Boyd. Seibel commented, “The Athens ordinance is significant as it uproots the origins of abortion the originated it that town when Curtis Wayne Boyd did 10,000 illegal abortions in the late 1960s. It also condemns Curtis Boyd, the biggest killer in American history with over 250,000 admitted abortions. The legacy of Roe is quickly falling across the Southwest.”

Abilene

The second city in Texas to outlaw abortion on election night was the city of Abilene (pop. 124,407), located in Taylor and Jones counties. The vote made Abilene the 54th city in the nation, and the 46th city in Texas, to pass an enforceable ordinance outlawing abortion within their city limits. The results were 53 percent for the ordinance and 47 percent against the ordinance, a difference of 6 points. Abilene is also the second and largest city in both Taylor and Jones counties to pass an ordinance outlawing abortion. The first city to ban abortion in Taylor County was the town of Impact (pop. 20), and the first city to ban abortion in Jones County was the city of Anson (pop. 2,556).

The results of the Abilene vote was 52.79 percent for the passage of the ordinance and 47.21 percent against the passage of the ordinance. The breakdown was as follows:

For – 14,936 (Absentee – 555; Early Voting – 10,050; Election Day – 4,331)
Against – 13,355 (Absentee – 636; Early Voting – 8,762; Election Day – 3,957)
Total cast – 28,291 (Absentee – 1,191; Early Voting – 18,812; Election Day – 8,288).

Since July 2019, citizens throughout the City of Abilene have wanted to see their city pass an ordinance outlawing abortion within their city limits. Abilene resident Charles Byrn, who originally brought an ordinance before the council, joked, “We were supposed to be second, but I’ll settle for being 54th!”

Looking from afar, Attorney Seibel is thankful for the passage of the Abilene ordinance. Seibel believes this model of ordinances will stop some of the abortions coming into New Mexico from the Lone Star State. Seibel shared, “The Abilene ordinance is particularly significant to New Mexico. It helps stem the flood of abortions currently overwhelming our State from Texas.” Seibel continued, “It will hold abortionists accountable for performing abortions on women traveling to New Mexico from Abilene. It will also chill the large abortion referral network that are assisting women financially in seeking abortions in New Mexico. The ordinance will save lives and prevent women from being harmed by an unsafe and unregulated abortion abortion industry.”

San Angelo

The third city in Texas to outlaw abortion on election night was the city of San Angelo, Texas (pop. 101,612), located in Tom Green County. The vote made San Angelo the 60th city in the nation, and the 47th city in Texas, to pass an enforceable ordinance outlawing abortion within city limits. The results were 56 percent for the ordinance and 44 percent against the ordinance, a difference of 12 points.

The results of the San Angelo vote was 56.02 percent for the passage of the ordinance and 43.98 percent against the passage of the ordinance. The breakdown was as follows:

For – 13,180 (Absentee – 732; Early Voting – 8,167; Election Day – 4,281)
Against – 10,349 (Absentee – 690; Early Voting – 6,163; Election Day – 3,496)
Total cast – 23,529 (Absentee – 1,422; Early Voting – 14,330; Election Day – 7,777).

The effort to see abortion outlawed in San Angelo started when the City of Big Spring, Texas (population 28,862), outlawed abortion in January 2020. Since then, residents of the San Angelo area have been working to see the City of San Angelo pass an ordinance outlawing abortion within their city limits. Pastor Ryan Buck of Immanuel Baptist Church was one of the individuals who helped lead the charge in San Angelo.

After hearing the official confirmation of the victory, Pastor Buck shared, “The results of the election reflect what the coalition of our churches who led the campaign have believed all along. Abortion is murder and a degradation to our position as image-bearers of God. Our victory should give our community leaders the backbone they need to stand for the moral issues of our day.”

Buck also believes that the work put into passing the ordinance should send a strong message to the abortion industry. Buck continued, “The citizen initiative process, which we had to go through, was hard work. I hope that the abortion industry recognizes just how hard West Texans in cities like San Angelo and Abilene are willing to work to keep abortion from ever becoming a reality in their communities.”

Plainview

The fourth city in Texas to outlaw abortion on election night was the city of Plainview, Texas (pop. 22,343), located in Hale County. The vote made Plainview the 61st city in the nation, and the 48th city in Texas, to pass an enforceable ordinance outlawing abortion within city limits. The results were 69 percent for the ordinance and 31 percent against the ordinance, a difference of 38 points.

Plainview is also the second and largest city in Hale County to pass an ordinance outlawing abortion; the first city to ban abortion in Hale County was the city of Abernathy (pop. 2,839).

The results of the Plainview vote was 69.25 percent for and 30.75 percent against. The breakdown was as follows:

For – 2,423 (Absentee – 116; Early Voting – 1,452; Election Day – 855)
Against – 1,076 (Absentee – 61; Early Voting – 588; Election Day – 427)
Total cast – 3,499 (Absentee – 177; Early Voting – 2,040; Election Day – 1,282)

Since November 2019, residents throughout the City of Plainview have expressed interest in seeing their city pass an enforceable ordinance outlawing abortion within city limits. When the first community member showed interest in this effort, only six cities had passed ordinances outlawing abortion. At the time, no city in West Texas had passed the measure, but that changed as West Texas saw Westbrook (pop. 312) outlaw abortion.

In Closing

The lesson chimes loudly. When men and women in small communities like Waskom (pop. 2,189) and Westbrook (pop. 312) stand up, amazing things can happen that reach far beyond the borders of their cities. There would be no Abilene, Athens, Plainview, and San Angelo victories had it not been for cities like Waskom and Westbrook.

Of course, Abilene, Athens, Plainview, and San Angelo were not the only communities to pass ordinances outlawing abortion on Election Day. In Nebraska, five villages passed ordinances outlawing abortion within their jurisdiction. Those five villages are Arnold (pop. 597), Brady (pop. 428), Hershey (pop. 665), Paxton (pop. 523), and Wallace (pop. 366).

These Election Day victories bring the number of ordinances passed by the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn Initiative to a total of 61 local abortion bans that have been passed since June 11, 2019.

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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