Since January 10, 2020, residents throughout the City of Amarillo (pop. 201,291) have expressed interest in seeing their city pass an enforceable ordinance outlawing abortion within their city limits. When the first member of their community showed interest in this effort, only eight cities had passed ordinances outlawing abortion. Now a total of sixty-seven cities and seven counties across seven states have passed ordinances outlawing abortion and declaring their jurisdictions “sanctuaries for the unborn.” 

The first Sanctuary City for the Unborn ordinance was drafted for the City of Amarillo on December 13, 2021. Since this ordinance was drafted, over twenty different versions have been written for the City of Amarillo. After years of attempting to get an ordinance passed through their City Council, the citizens of Amarillo have decided to take a different approach – the citizen initiative petition process outlined in the Amarillo City Charter. On the afternoon of Friday, December 29, 2023, eleven Amarillo residents filed the necessary paperwork to begin the Citizen Initiative Petition process. 

Members of the Amarillo Sanctuary City for the Unborn Ordinance Initiating Committee include Jana May, Cindy Price, Peggy Carter Thomas, Jacob A. Meyer, John Barrett, Steve Austin, Jennifer Roberts, Martha Sell, Alex Deanda, Connie Morgan, and Carol Ann Stewart. 

If the committee is successful in collecting the necessary number of signatures, the Amarillo City Council will be compelled to vote on the ordinance outlawing abortion and abortion trafficking within the city limits of Amarillo. The choice before the Amarillo City Council will be to either accept or reject the ordinance in the exact form proposed. If the City Council rejects the ordinance, the initiating committee can place the ordinance on the ballot for the next available election.

The Initiating Committee, led by Amarillo resident Jana May, intends to collect well over the required 5,761 signatures needed for the petition to be deemed successful. The immediate past president of the High Plains Republican Women (HPRW) said, “We are called to protect and cherish the preborn who cannot protect themselves. It’s that simple!” May continued, “We must do our part to protect unborn children from abortion and abortion trafficking throughout our city.”  

The current HPRW president, Cindy Price, said, “We took these steps today because we recognize that the sanctity of life begins with protecting the unborn. When we fail to acknowledge their existence as living and valuable human beings, we risk eroding the foundation of compassion that safeguards every life.” Price continued, “For in neglecting the rights of the unborn, we open a perilous door, questioning whose life is next to be deemed expendable.” 

Jacob Meyer, president of the Amarillo Area Young Republicans (AAYRs) shared, “One of the planks of the Republican Party of Texas Party Platform is expanding the private enforcement mechanism found in the Texas Heartbeat Act to all pro-life laws across the State of Texas. This ordinance is a direct fulfillment of that party platform here in the City of Amarillo.” 

Meyer continued, “When writing the Declaration of Independence, our founding fathers listed our inalienable rights and put the ‘Right to Life’ first for a reason. This ordinance recognizes the ‘Right to Life’ and, once it passes, will frustrate the efforts of anyone attempting to traffic unborn children across state lines. This ordinance has been tried, tested, and proven in other localities and will cover the gaps currently open in the pre-Roe v. Wade Statutes, the Texas Heartbeat Act, and the Human Life Protection Act.”  

Alex Casias Jr., Chairman of the Young Conservatives of Texas at West Texas A&M (YCT-WT) said that they stand strongly in support of the proposed Amarillo Ordinance, sharing, “A Sanctuary City for the Unborn Ordinance would prevent any abortion services from operating in the community and would prevent abortion trafficking across city limits.” Casias continued, “We at YCT-WT will help in any way to continue the fight to protect unborn babies and ensure that this ordinance gets passed with overwhelming support from the community.”

The proposed ordinance does the following:

  • Prohibits elective abortions and the aiding or abetting of elective abortions within city limits – extending the private enforcement mechanism found in the Texas Heartbeat Act from the point of detectable heartbeat to the point of conception.
  • Prohibits elective abortions or the aiding or abetting of elective abortions on residents who live within the city limits – regardless of the location of the abortion.
  • Prohibits the manufacturing, possession, or distribution of abortion-inducing drugs within the city limits.
  • Prohibits the abortion trafficking of an unborn child and the aiding or abetting of the abortion trafficking of an unborn child within the city limits – making it illegal for abortion traffickers to use any roads or runways within the city limits.
  • Prohibits the transport of the remains of unborn children who have been killed by an elective abortion from any abortion provider into the city limits, prohibiting also the disposal of such remains within the city limits.
  • Prohibits organizations seeking to profit off of the murder of innocent unborn children from operating or doing business within the city limits.

These six provisions all do something that current law in Texas does not, and would make Amarillo one of the safest cities in Texas for pregnant mothers and their unborn children. 

Other Texas cities that have gone through the Citizen Initiative Petition process and have seen their ordinance adopted include Lubbock (pop. 264,000), Athens (pop. 13,121), Abilene (pop. 124,407), San Angelo (pop. 101,612), and Plainview (pop. 22,343). Out of these five cities, four have provisions that prohibit the abortion trafficking of residents within their communities—regardless of what state in which the abortion takes place. 

Other cities and counties whose councils and commissions have passed ordinances that prohibit the abortion trafficking of residents within their communities include the City of Odessa (pop. 125,413), the City of Little River-Academy (pop. 2,048), Mitchell County (pop. 9,070), Goliad County (pop. 7,012), Cochran County (pop. 2,547), Lubbock County (pop. 317,561), and Dawson County (pop. 12,130).  

A letter signed by Senators and Representatives across Texas this summer encourages municipalities across Texas to consider these types of “abortion trafficking” ordinances.

The letter states:

While it is true that abortion is outlawed in the entire State of Texas, from the point of conception, our work is far from over. Right now, throughout the State of Texas, women are being trafficked across our borders by abortion traffickers funded by abortion trafficking organizations still operating in our state. As a result, these women are being abused and traumatized by abortion across our Texas-New Mexico border and sent back to Texas for our cities and counties to deal with the aftermath taking place in our homes, our schools, our churches, and our hospitals.

The Sanctuary for the Unborn ordinances seek to protect these institutions by putting safeguards in place to protect men, women, and their children for years to come. These ordinances, which seek to close as many loopholes as possible, do not penalize women who seek or undergo abortions, but places the penalty on the party who most deserves it — the abortionist and the industry profiting from the unjust procedure, including abortion traffickers.

While we intend to do our part to keep our strong pro-life protections for mothers and their unborn children, we believe it will help for cities and counties to do their part as well. As state elected officials who are trusted by Pro-Life Texans to stand for life at every available opportunity, we believe this is a viable and crucial opportunity for local governments to protect their most vulnerable members. We look forward to partnering with you as we seek to defend innocent human life at every level of government.

Signers of the letter included: State Reps. Dustin Burrows (HD 83), Carl Tepper (HD 84), Jeff Leach (HD 67), Jared Patterson (HD 106), Briscoe Cain (HD 128), Greg Bonnen (HD 24), James Frank (HD 69), Cole Heffner (HD 5), Stephanie Klick (HD 91), Ellen Troxclair (HD 19), Geanie W. Morrison (HD 30), Mark Dorazio (HD 122), Matt Schaefer (HD 6), Carrie Isaac (HD 73), and State Sens. Charles Perry (SD 28), Mayes Middleton (SD 11), Bryan Hughes (SD 1), Tan Parker (SD 12), Donna Campbell (SD 25), and Lois W. Kolkhorst (SD 18).

Texas legislators were not the only state legislators in support of the measures. In October 2023, seven New Mexico Senators and Representatives signed a letter encouraging cities and counties across Texas to consider these types of “abortion trafficking” ordinances as well. The letter they signed stated:

Since September 2021, when the Texas Heartbeat Act went into effect, we have seen over 1,000 abortions per month come into the State of New Mexico from the State of Texas. Not only has this influx of abortions caused the deaths of many innocent Texans, but it is putting an extreme burden on our limited healthcare system in New Mexico. This may lead to a significant health crisis in the State of New Mexico if reasonable measures are not passed on abortion trafficking within the State of Texas, as our health system cannot handle the significant number of emergencies that are the result of the influx of approximately 11,000 Texas abortions per year. As state legislators we stand concerned about the impact this has on the health, safety, and enjoyment of life of the residents of New Mexico and those who are visiting from the state of Texas. While the ordinances passed in our cities and counties in New Mexico are different from the ordinances which have been passed in cities and counties throughout Texas, our communities are seeking to do as much as they possibly can to protect our communities under the leadership and the laws of the State of New Mexico. We are doing this despite facing overwhelming opposition from state leaders who are in lock-step with the most pro-abortion administration in the history of America. Of course, we cannot fight the Biden Administration’s radical abortion agenda alone. This is why it is a great encouragement to us that allies across the New Mexico-Texas border are considering proposals which would prohibit abortion trafficking into New Mexico. While we will never stop fighting for unborn life on our turf in New Mexico, the victory is made more achievable when cities and counties in Texas are doing their part to defend innocent human life as well.

New Mexico State Reps. and Senators who signed the letter included Senators David Gallegos (SD 41), Pat Woods (SD 7), and Greg Schmedes, M.D. (SD 19), and Representatives John Block (HD 51), Andrea Reeb (HD 64), James Townsend HD 54), and Jennifer Jones (HD 32).

On December 21, Project Veritas released part 1 of an undercover investigation into abortion trafficking, which was further highlighted by a report from Live Action. 

Jonathan F. Mitchell, former Solicitor General of Texas and architect of the private enforcement mechanism of the Texas Heartbeat Act, has committed to representing the City of Amarillo at no cost to the city and taxpayers for any litigation that may arise from the passage of the proposed Sanctuary City for the Unborn ordinance.

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

Mark Lee Dickson

Mark Lee Dickson is a director with Right to Life of East Texas and the founder of the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn Initiative.