On Thursday, the City of Normangee, Texas (population 778), became the 44th city in Texas (and the 50th city in the United States) to pass an ordinance outlawing abortion. The passage of the measure also made Normangee the fifth city to have outlawed abortion in Leon County, following the cities of Centerville (pop. 892), Leona (pop. 175), Jewett (pop. 1,250), and Marquez (pop. 313). The vote fell on the one-year anniversary of Gov.Greg Abbott signing the Texas Heartbeat Act into law.

Centerville Ministerial Alliance President Thomas Campbell, who serves as the pastor of Tri-Circle Ranch Christian Center in Leona, was present at the council meeting to show both his and the ministerial alliance’s support of the measure. After the meeting, Campbell shared, “Normangee has become the fifth city in Leon County to be a safe haven from the unborn. God is working in wondrous ways.”

Pastor Robert F. Lee of Harmony Baptist Church in Normangee shared, “I am thrilled that the Normangee City Council voted to pass the ordinance outlawing abortion. It is such a blessing to live in and pastor in a community where our officials recognize the truth that we are people in the eyes of God, even in the womb.”

The Normangee Ordinance Outlawing Abortion immediately outlaws abortion within the city limits, as it 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 Normangee, Texas,” and, “It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly aid or abet an abortion that occurs in the City of Normangee, 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.” The ordinance is clear that the term does not include birth-control devices or oral contraceptives.

The ordinance is also clear that the act is not an abortion if the act is done with the intent to “save the life or preserve the health of an unborn child,” to “remove a dead, unborn child whose death was caused by accidental miscarriage,” or to “remove an ectopic pregnancy.” There is one other exception listed in the ordinance, and that is a very narrow exception for cases where the mother’s life is at risk. This is listed as an affirmative defense and falls upon the one performing the abortion to provide that defense if necessary. This is outlined by the ordinance as abortions in cases where the abortion is “in response to a life-threatening physical condition aggravated by, caused by, or arising from a pregnancy that, as certified by a physician, places the woman in danger of death or a serious risk of substantial impairment of a major bodily function unless an abortion is performed.”

In addition to outlawing abortion, the Normangee ordinance immediately outlaws abortion-inducing drugs and declares them to be contraband. The Normangee ordinance states, “It shall be unlawful for any person to possess or distribute abortion-inducing drugs in the City of Normangee, 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.” The ordinance is clear that the term “abortion-inducing drugs” does not include birth-control devices or oral contraceptives.

With the City of Normangee passing the ordinance, there are now only two cities in Leon County that could still outlaw abortion: Buffalo (pop. 1,984) and Oakwood (pop. 510). While it is uncertain how the two remaining city councils will vote, Leon County is very conservative, and the majority of its residents are pro-life Republicans who want to see abortion outlawed throughout the State of Texas.

During Leon County’s 2020 presidential election, 86.6 percent (7,523) voted Republican, 12.3 percent (1,072) voted Democrat, and 1.0 percent (90) voted for other candidates. During the 2022 Republican Party primary on March 1, voters in Leon County had the opportunity to vote on Proposition 5. This proposition gave voters the chance to vote “in favor” of or “against” the following statement: “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.” In Leon County, out of 3,461 votes, 3,384 voted in favor of this proposition, and only 77 voted against; that is a whopping 97.7 percent in favor of defending innocent human life from the point of conception until natural death.

If the cities of Buffalo and Oakwood outlaw abortion, Leon County would become the third county in Texas to have all of its incorporated cities outlaw abortion. The first county to have all of its incorporated cities outlaw abortion was Cochran County, which was followed by Sterling County. Cochran County only has two incorporated cities: Whiteface (pop. 449) and Morton (pop. 2,006); Sterling County’s only incorporated city is Sterling City (pop. 888).

Other counties that are close to seeing all of their incorporated cities outlaw abortion include Ector County (which has seen one of its two cities outlaw abortion), Mitchell County (which has seen two of its three cities outlaw abortion), and Eastland County (which has seen four of its six cities outlaw abortion).

As the Supreme Court of the United States appears poised to overturn Roe v. Wade in the very near future, the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn Initiative is not expected to slow down anytime soon. Many more cities throughout Texas are considering passing local ordinances that work alongside the pre-Roe v. Wade Texas abortion statutes, the Texas Heartbeat Act, and the Texas Trigger Ban to make sure their communities are as protected as they can be from the radical abortion industry.

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.