On Monday, April 25, residents from Athens, Texas (pop 13,121), and beyond gathered together for a rally called the “Our Mayor and Council Might Not Stand For Life, But We Will” Rally. The event was organized as a result of an email Mayor Toni Clay wrote in response to a citizen’s request for the council to place the Athens Ordinance Outlawing Abortion on the agenda.

At the event, more than 150 passionate voices showed up to stand with Athens resident Tommie Thomas and his desire to see the ordinance on the next city council agenda. While the effort to see the City of Athens become a sanctuary city for the unborn began in February 2021, Mayor Toni Clay’s email to Thomas was the most direct response the citizens of Athens had ever received from the city’s leadership.

Right To Life of East Texas Director Mark Lee Dickson speaks before a crowd of more than 150 prior to the Athens City Council meeting on Monday.

Mayor Toni Clay’s letter to Thomas reads as follows:

While I appreciate your passion for the issue, I will not be placing the proposed ordinance on the agenda. The primary reasons for not doing so are as follows:


1. The Athens City Council has no legal authority regarding abortion, which is governed by federal and state laws already in place.


2. The city of Athens has no abortion clinics whatsoever.


3. The state of Texas already has a law in place which mirrors the proposed ordinance, making the proposed ordinance redundant.


4. The ordinance’s proposed enforcement mechanism calls for citizens to sue other citizens. Such lawsuits would take place in civil court, over which the city has no enforcement authority.


5. Passing an unenforceable, redundant ordinance in a city with no abortion clinics for the sake of making a statement sets an unwise precedent.


6. The city attorney and TML have advised against it. Based on considerable experience, we find both to be trustworthy.



Toni Clay


Athens resident Mistie Sharp, who played a key role in organizing the event, shared, “Who would have thought that we would have a mayor and a city attorney who [are] standing against the pro-life efforts of our governor, attorney general, our state Legislature. Athens residents deserve better from the City of Athens government!” Sharp continued, “Mayor Toni Clay’s statements against the Texas Heartbeat Act and the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn Initiative are a great embarrassment to the State of Texas, and all pro-life residents should do their part to hold her accountable as she does not represent the pro-life majority of Athens, Texas.”

Henderson County Republican Chair Dan Hunt was one of the many voices who spoke during the council meeting in support of the ordinance being added to the council agenda. Hunt shared that during the 2022 Republican Party of Texas primary on March 1, about 88 percent of Republican voters in Henderson County voted in support of Proposition 5, which states, “Texas should enact a state constitutional amendment to defend the sanctity of innocent human life, created in the image of God, from fertilization until natural death.”

Dan Hunt, Henderson Republican Party chair and local attorney, speaks in favor of the City of Athens placing the ordinance outlawing abortion on the council agenda.

Throughout the meeting, several in attendance criticized Mayor Clay and City Attorney Blake Armstrong as they pushed back on Clay’s claim that “the Athens City Council has no legal authority regarding abortion.” Tommie Thomas shared, “We are quoting state law, but our mayor and our city attorney are ignoring state law. The law of Texas allows cities to outlaw abortions in Texas Government Code Section 311.036(b).” The statute Thomas referenced reads, “A statute may not be construed to restrict a political subdivision from regulating or prohibiting abortion in a manner that is at least as stringent as the laws of this state unless the statute explicitly states that political subdivisions are prohibited from regulating or prohibiting abortion in the manner described by the statute.”

Some at the gathering questioned if City Attorney Blake Armstrong, who serves as an attorney for more than 15 cities across East Texas, was the reason why the ordinance had not yet been passed in cities like Chandler (pop. 3,219), Mineola (pop. 4,951), and White Oak (pop. 6,544).

When Mistie Sharp spoke before the council, she shared, “In a May 2021 interview with KCBD Lubbock, constitutional law professor Josh Blackman said the governor’s signature on the Texas Heartbeat Act supports any city which wishes to outlaw abortion. Professor Blackman said that the Texas Heartbeat Act says that if a local municipality like Lubbock wants to go further and impose greater restrictions on abortion, they can, and their two laws will be in harmony.”

Another speaker before council was Mary Elizabeth Boyd Scallon, a distant relative of Curtis Boyd (a former community member of Athens). Curtis Boyd is mentioned in the proposed Athens ordinance as “a notorious illegal abortionist during the 1960s and early 1970s” who “performed abortions in Athens, Texas, when abortion was a criminal offense in Texas and in most of the United States.”

Scallon shared, “I feel it is important for pro-life Boyds to take a stand, because of the shameful legacy of our distant relative Dr. Curtis Boyd, a preacher who eventually became a provider of death for the unborn.” Scallon continued, “Although I don’t live in Athens, and Curtis Boyd is in New Mexico, I believe the Boyd name should be freed from the stigma associated with his profession. Most importantly, however, I believe we should right the wrong and contribute at least a small part in ensuring that the lives of countless babies are spared.”

This was not the first time that the Athens City Council had heard about Curtis Boyd. Community leaders have emphasized the Athens-abortion connection since the movement in Athens began; however, Monday was the first time the council heard from an attorney who claimed to “frequently represent the women who are victims of the Curtis Boyd Clinic in Albuquerque, New Mexico.” The letter from Michael J. Seibel & Associates, Attorneys at Law, which was sent to the city council prior to the council meeting, read:

I am urging Athens, Texas to make itself a sanctuary city. This will help clear the name of Athens, Texas of any scandal or disfavor . . . As you may know, Curtis Boyd was born and raised in Athens, Texas. He was performing abortions illegally in Athens, Texas in 1968. Curtis Boyd testified that he did 5,000 abortions in Athens and Dallas prior to abortions being legal (see Whole Women’s Health v. Paxton 1:17-cv-00690 document 165, pg. 16 lines 8-14).


In the same case, he testified to performing over 100,000 abortions (see id page 33 line 4-7). This admission makes Curtis Boyd the single biggest killer in the history of the United States. The number of people he killed eclipses both the Korean conflict and the Vietnam war casualties.


Curtis Boyd’s scandalous behavior has not stopped since abortion has been legal. From 1995 -2016 his clinics have been in a collaborative relationship with the University of New Mexico to sell infant body parts. He was not informing women of such actions. On June 23, 2016, the Select Panel on Infant Lives issued a criminal referral against Curtis Boyd, then again, they issued a separate, second criminal referral against Curtis Boyd on December 21, 2016.


The Select Panel on Infant Lives criminal referrals resulted in the production of notes evidencing hundreds of baby’s brains, hearts, lungs, eyes, and even skin harvested from babies without the consent of their mothers as required by State Law. In one such case, the University of New Mexico custom ordered a 24-to-28-week-old baby, from Boyd’s clinic, to dissect in front of High School students. This work was essentially teaching children to kill other children.


On September 21, 2021, New Mexico Alliance for Life released a list of over fifty women hurt by his practices at his clinic in Albuquerque, New Mexico. These women were hurt by a clinic while they were at their most vulnerable time, namely undergoing a crisis pregnancy.


Mahatma Ghandi once said, “The true measure of any society can be found on how it treats its most vulnerable members.” In this case, Athens, Texas is the birthplace of the single largest assault against the most vulnerable in history, namely the unborn and mother’s facing crisis pregnancies. A vote against the ordinance will show that Athens, Texas condones the taking over 100,000 lives, the sale of baby body parts, the dissecting of babies in front of summer camp students and injuries to dozens of women including the death of one woman.


It is time to vote “YES” to the sanctuary city ordinance and show your support for the most vulnerable in society. It is time to show that Athens, Texas will not support the illegal and scandalous actions of Curtis Boyd and his clinics and help erase the trail of atrocities that began in your town.


Documents proving these atrocities are available upon request. If you have any questions or problems, please do not hesitate to contact me. Given this information, I do not see how, in good conscience, you can vote in any way but to immediately take steps to make Athens, Texas a sanctuary city.

Tommie Thomas has reached out to Mayor Clay one last time to see if the Athens ordinance would be added to the agenda for the next council meeting. If the ordinance does not make it onto the next council agenda, the citizens of Athens are willing to get the ordinance before the council through the citizen initiative process allowed for by the Athens City Charter.

Currently, a total of 48 cities across the United States have passed ordinances outlawing abortion within their city limits; forty-three of those cities are in the Lone Star State.

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.