On May 17, the city council of Levelland, Texas, voted unanimously to move forward with an ordinance outlawing abortion within their city limits.


During that meeting, news broke that the City of Lubbock had been sued by Planned Parenthood. Upon hearing the news, some residents wondered if the lawsuit would cause any of their elected city officials to change their mind about the proposed ordinance to be voted on a final time at their June 7 meeting. Only then would the ordinance become law.


A lot happened since the May 17 meeting. A city in Ohio outlawed abortion, the Office of the Attorney General of Texas declared Lubbock’s ordinance “entirely consistent with state law,” Planned Parenthood stopped performing and scheduling abortions at their Lubbock facility, and a federal Judge dismissed Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit for lack of jurisdiction.


With these victories, many in Levelland were pleased to see all four of their city council members vote in favor of the ordinance. The ordinance, originally placed on the agenda by Councilman Jim Myatt and Councilwoman Mary Engledow, received its first motion of adoption by Councilman Myatt, with Councilwoman Breann Buxkemper’s quick support.


Before the second vote, Councilman Michael Stueart made the motion of adoption and was supported by Buxkemper.


The Levelland 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 Levelland, Texas,” and, “It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly aid or abet an abortion that occurs in the City of Levelland, Texas.”


The historic vote made Levelland the first city in Hockley County to pass the enforceable ordinance. Levelland was not, however, the first city whose council was approached with the measure. Ropesville City Council (pop. 434) was approached in September of 2020, while Sundown (pop. 1,397) and Smyer (pop. 474) were approached in May 2021. As of this writing, only Sundown has set the ordinance for a vote at their next council meeting.


Other cities in Hockley County that could vote on this ordinance include Anton and Opdyke West. An overwhelming majority of those who vote in Hockley County are conservative Republican voters. In the 2020 presidential election, a whopping 80.7 percent of the vote there was for former President Donald J. Trump.


“This is a great day in Levelland! We have done something that has been long overdue. Levelland is truly Blessed and by passing ‘Sanctuary City for the Unborn’ we will remain blessed,” Engledow shared after the June 7 vote.


The effort to see abortion outlawed in Levelland began when resident Kati Morris saw a Facebook post by Franklin Graham in June 2019 congratulating the City of Waskom for outlawing abortion. In his post, Graham encouraged other cities to follow in Waskom’s footsteps.


Morris helped lead the effort in Levelland, and several throughout the community joined her, including Pastor Eddie Trice with South Plains Church. South Plains was one of the first churches in the Caprock region to lead its congregation in a mass petition drive to see their city become a Sanctuary City for the Unborn.


Morris reflected on the process. “I believe God placed that desire on my heart for a reason,” she said. “I had no idea that Lubbock would end up going before Levelland. All I knew is that God opened my eyes to the need for all of our cities to guard our city gates.”


“I had an abortion many years ago, 30 miles away in Lubbock, and that abortion devastated my life,” Morris continued. “Abortion does not help women, it destroys women and takes the life of their children. What community needs that as an option for the people of their community?”


For the past two years, I have posted on Facebook and rejoiced about every city which has outlawed abortion. And tonight, I finally got to rejoice over my city!”

Levelland will, most likely, not be the last city to join the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn Initiative. Residents in cities throughout Texas are contemplating what it would look like to see the ordinance passed in their cities.


In the past few weeks, interest meetings have taken place in Sundown (pop. 1,397), Shenandoah (pop. 2,987), Dickinson (21,129), and San Angelo (101,004). Interest meetings are planned in the weeks ahead for Centerville (892), Eastland (pop. 3,970), Pampa (18,401), and Tyler (pop. 109,000).

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.