On Tuesday, August 2, the City of Athens (pop. 13,121) held a special meeting that included a discussion on which path would be taken concerning the Athens Ordinance Outlawing Abortion.

The ordinance was placed before the city council as a result of a successful citizen initiative petition effort that started in early June. The citizen initiative petition process followed the Athens City Council’s continual rejection of requests from citizens to place the ordinance on the council’s agenda for discussion.

In accordance with the Athens City Charter, the city council had three options: They could (A) “pass the initiated ordinance without amendment within thirty days after the date of certification to the city council,” (B) “submit said initiated ordinance without amendments to a vote of those qualified to vote in city elections in a regular . . . election to be held within ninety days after the date of the certification to the city council,” or (C) “at such election submit to a vote of those persons qualified to vote in city elections said initiated ordinance without amendment and an alternative ordinance on the same subject proposed by the city council.”

Residents of all ages and backgrounds testified before their city council.

A fourth-grade student named Armileigh from Athens Christian Preparatory Academy asked the city council to choose Option A of the Athens City Charter, noting, “God’s word is clear that He hates the shedding of innocent blood.”

The student went on to address the mayor, saying, “Mayor Clay, I do not know if you personally know Curtis Wayne Boyd or not, but he has been responsible for the killing of over 500,000 children—over 10,000 of which were right here in Athens. I know you said in an interview that you did not think the private enforcement mechanism found in the ordinance was ‘very Christ-like,’ but I think it is very Christ-like to do everything we can do to protect innocent life in our city. Mayor, please protect our city from an abortionist—who still owns property here.”

Athens resident McKenzie Brown pleaded with the council to choose Option A, passing the ordinance as is. Brown stated, “This issue is a moral one, not political. It is Christ-like to cherish life. It is Christ-like to defend those who are helpless. It is Christ-like to seek justice.” Brown continued, “It is not Christ-like to shirk your duties, city council. You represent the citizens; please do your job. It is not Christ-like to cower behind excuses or your fear of man, Mayor Clay. It is not Christ-like to be more concerned with offending people than offending the Author and Maker of life.”

The meeting drew many residents, area church leaders, and leaders and representatives from a variety of pro-life organizations, including Abortion On Trial, the Henderson County Republican Party, New Wave Feminists, Right To Life of East Texas, and Texas Right To Life.

While almost everyone in attendance spoke in favor of Option A, the Athens City Council unanimously chose Option B, which was to “submit said initiated ordinance without amendments to a vote of those qualified to vote in city elections.”

As a result of the unanimous vote by the council, the citizens of Athens will now be joining the citizens of Abilene, San Angelo, and Plainview on November 8 in deciding if their cities will gain additional abortion restrictions.

While abortion is now banned from the moment of conception across the State of Texas, the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn Ordinances are more restrictive than the pre-Roe v. Wade statutes, the Texas Heartbeat Act, and the Life at Conception Act. If passed, these abortion bans would prohibit abortions from being performed on residents of these cities, regardless of the state where the abortions took place.

Texas cities may not be the only municipalities with abortion bans on their ballot this November. In Nebraska, citizens throughout the state have started citizen initiatives to see ordinances outlawing abortion pass in their cities.

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 and the founder of the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn Initiative.