The city of Shallowater, Texas (pop. 2,613), has become the 41st city in Texas (and the 45th city in the United States) to pass an enforceable ordinance outlawing abortion within its city limits. The vote by the Shallowater City Council was a unanimous decision in favor of life.

Prior to the vote, Mayor Royking Potter shared his opinion that the city council should vote in favor of the ordinance. The council voted in complete agreement, making it a unanimous 5-0 decision. Following the vote, Councilman David Bruegel shared, “Today, Shallowater took a stand to protect the fundamental right to life. I am proud of my fellow council members for unanimously voting to make Shallowater a sanctuary city for the unborn.”

The vote made the City of Shallowater the sixth city in Texas to pass an ordinance outlawing abortion since the Texas Heartbeat Act went into effect on September 1st, 2021.

The Shallowater ordinance immediately outlaws abortion within the city limits, stating, “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 Shallowater, Texas,” and, “It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly aid or abet an abortion that occurs in the City of Shallowater, Texas.” The ordinance defines abortion 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 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” or “remove a dead, unborn child whose death was caused by accidental miscarriage” or “remove an ectopic pregnancy.”

In addition to outlawing abortion, the Shallowater ordinance also immediately outlaws abortion-inducing drugs and declares them to be contraband. The Shallowater ordinance states, “It shall be unlawful for any person to possess or distribute abortion-inducing drugs in the City of Shallowater, Texas.” Abortion-inducing drugs are defined in the ordinance 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.

Shallowater is the fourth city in Lubbock County to have passed an ordinance outlawing abortion, following the cities of Lubbock (pop. 264,000), Abernathy (pop. 2,839), and Slaton (pop. 6,235). Cities in Lubbock County that have not yet passed an ordinance outlawing abortion include: Buffalo Springs (pop. 495), New Deal (pop. 794), Ransom Canyon (pop. 1,200), Idalou (pop. 2,342), and Wolfforth (pop. 5,716).

An overwhelming majority of those who vote in Lubbock County are conservative Republican voters whose beliefs and values do not line up with the Biden administration’s desire for abortion access in every zip code. In the 2020 presidential election in Lubbock County, the Republican candidate received 65.3 percent of the vote, while the Democrat candidate received 33.1 percent of the vote. During the 2018 Republican Party primary voters in Lubbock County had the opportunity to vote on Proposition #7, which read, “I believe abortion should be abolished in Texas.” Out of Lubbock County’s 21,466 votes, 15,480 voted in favor of outlawing abortion in Texas, and 5,986 voted against outlawing abortion in Texas.

Most recently, during the 2022 Republican Party primary on March 1, voters in Lubbock County had the opportunity to vote on Proposition #5. This proposition gave voters the chance to voice their opinion if they were “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.” Out of Lubbock County’s 26,955 votes, 22,912 voted in favor of this proposition, and only 4,043 voted against this proposition. That is a whopping 85 percent in favor of defending innocent human life from conception until natural death.

In addition to the consideration of these numbers, it is also worth considering that one of the official planks of the Republican Party of Texas 2020 platform reads, “We support the right of Texas municipalities to protect mothers and preborn children in their communities by passing enforceable city ordinances that ban abortions and abortion industry businesses within their city limits.” Ninety-two percent of Republican Party of Texas delegates voted in favor of adding this plank to the Republican Party of Texas 2020 platform.

The Shallowater Ordinance Outlawing Abortion works with the recently passed Texas Heartbeat Act to go as far as protecting all unborn children in Shallowater, Texas. While the Texas Heartbeat Act outlaws abortion from the point of a detectable heartbeat, the Shallowater ordinance outlaws abortion from the point of conception. The Texas Heartbeat Act allows for the Shallowater ordinance to be stricter as long as the ordinance is not stricter than current state law. As stated in the Texas Heartbeat Act, “The legislature finds that the State of Texas never repealed, either expressly or by implication, the state statutes enacted before the ruling in Roe v. Wade that prohibit and criminalize abortion unless the Mother’s life is in danger.”

Last week, Sen. Charles Perry and State Rep. Dustin Burrows sent a letter to the mayor of Shallowater, encouraging the city council to pass the life-saving ordinance. The letter read, “Since the passing of the same ordinance in Lubbock and many other cities across the country, the ordinance has been challenged at multiple judicial levels and prevailed as legal and enforceable. The heartbeat bill passed by the 87th Texas Legislature that contains similar provisions regarding enforcement has been tested at the Supreme Court of the United States and prevailed intact. It is true that lawsuits will continue and challenge pro-life initiatives, but on the ordinance, the courts have left the ordinance intact.”

Burrows attended the meeting and was the first to speak. He spoke on the legality of the ordinance and how successful these ordinances had been at surviving court challenges. Burrows also gave high praise for Jonathan F. Mitchell,  the attorney who has agreed to represent the city at no cost to the city or taxpayers if the city faces any litigation as a result of the passage of the ordinance.

More cities are expected to outlaw abortion in the weeks to come. Those interested in seeing abortion outlawed in their city are encouraged to sign the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn Initiative’s online petition.

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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