Since July 2019 citizens throughout the City of Abilene (population 125,182) have wanted to see their city pass an ordinance outlawing abortion within their city limits. After over 28 months of waiting on their Mayor and City Council to outlaw abortion, citizens throughout Abilene have decided to take matters into their own hands.

On Friday evening an initiating committee, made up of seven Abilene residents, submitted the following documents to their mayor, city council, city secretary, and city attorney: (1) a letter of intent to circulate a petition to see an enforceable ordinance outlaw abortion within their city limits, (2) a copy of the city charter highlighting the process which they are planning on following, and (3) a blank petition which will be circulated with a copy of the ordinance attached.

The intention of the initiating committee is to collect the 6,550 petition signatures needed to force the Abilene City Council to either adopt the ordinance outlawing abortion in the exact form proposed, or for the ordinance to be placed on the ballot for the voters of Abilene to decide at the election held on May 7th, 2022.

Scott Beard, Pastor of FountainGate Fellowship, was one of the seven members of the initiating committee who was present at the Abilene City Hall to submit the documents.

Pastor Beard shared, “We filed these documents to cover all bases and to make sure our city had on record the exact date we started our signature collection process.”

Besides Pastor Scott Beard, the initiating committee includes Scott’s wife – Kim Beard; Taylor County Precinct #105 Chairman Charles Byrn, Schoolteacher Rosetta Moore; Pastor Chuck Farina with New Hope Church; insurance agent Monica Butler; and coffee barista Carlie Cooper. The initiating committee is planning on getting all of the signatures in the next 40 days.

So far, the effort has gotten off to a good start. Signature circulators hit the streets to do their part to collect signatures for the initiative petition on Saturday morning. On Sunday morning over 15 churches in the City of Abilene allowed for signatures to be collected in their foyers. It is estimated that over 1,000 signatures were collected this past weekend alone.

It appears that the people of Abilene may be more energized now than they have ever been. Abilene resident Jill Muzechenko was one of the many involved this weekend in working to see the Abilene Initiative become a reality. Muzechenko shared, “Abilene has long been called the ‘Key City.’ She has a reputation for churches found on every street corner and three christian universities. The body of Christ has come together and is mobilizing. Muzechenko continued, “We want the opportunity to secure Abilene as a city that esteems the life of the unborn and protects their individual destinies.”

Other residents felt just as strongly as Muzechenko, citing their faith as their driving force behind their passion. Abilene resident Micah Schmidt shared, “God has a destiny for every precious mom and child. I want to be part of rewriting the story of Abilene. I want to be able to tell my kids about the moment a city of people stood for the life of the unborn and experienced the blessing of God because of it.”

The City of Abilene (pop. 123,420) falls in two counties, Taylor and Jones. In the 2020 presidential election, 71.7 % of voters cast their ballot for Trump in Taylor County, while 84 % percent cast their ballot for Trump in Jones County.

During the 2018 Republican Party Primary, voters had the opportunity to vote on proposition #7. This proposition gave voters the chance to voice their opinion if they were “In Favor” or “Against” this following statement: ” I believe abortion should be abolished in Texas.” In Taylor County a total of 75.13% of those who voted in the primary were in favor of the statement while support among primary voters in Jones County was at 73.82%.

If passed the Abilene Ordinance would immediately outlaw abortion within the city limits. The ordinance states, “It shall be unlawful for any person to procure or perform an abortion of any type and at any stage of pregnancy in the city of Abilene, Texas” and “It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly aid or abet an abortion that occurs in the city of Abilene, Texas.” Abortion is defined by the ordinance as “the act of using or prescribing an instrument, a drug, a medicine, or any other substance, device, or means with the intent to cause the death of an unborn child of a woman known to be pregnant.”

In addition to outlawing abortion, the Abilene Ordinance also declares abortion-inducing drugs to be contraband stating “It shall be unlawful for any person to possess or distribute abortion-inducing drugs in the city of Abilene, Texas. The Ordinance defines “abortion-inducing drugs” as “mifepristone, misoprostol, and any drug or medication that is used to terminate the life of an unborn child.”

Out of the 42 cities that have passed ordinances outlawing abortion, the City of Lubbock is the only city who passed their ordinance through a citywide election. Outside of Abilene the only other city whose residents are attempting to outlaw abortion through ballot initiative is the City of San Angelo (population 101,612) whose residents began the process on November 18th, 2021.

While it is uncertain how soon Abilene’s initiating committee will be able to collect the 6,550 signatures needed, the committee and the team they have assembled are optimistic that as long as they work hard, and do not slack, they will reach the required number. To meet the goal the group will need to collect at least 164 signatures a day for the next 40 days.

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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