On Monday, the City of Slaton (pop. 6,235) became the 39th city in the state of Texas, and the 43rd in America, to pass an enforceable ordinance outlawing abortion within their city limits.

Located 17 miles southeast of Lubbock, Slaton is the second largest city in Lubbock County and the third city in the county to pass an ordinance outlawing abortion. The City of Lubbock (pop. 264,000) was the first to pass their ordinance in May, and the City of Abernathy (pop. 2,839) passed their ordinance within weeks of Lubbock’s vote.

Lubbock is a county known for its conservative values. During the 2020 presidential election, 65.3 percent (78,861) of voters in Lubbock County voted Republican, 33.1 percent (40,017) voted Democrat, and 1.6 percent (1,939) voted for other candidates. In the 2016 presidential election, 66.3 percent (65,651) voted Republican, 28.3 percent (28,023) voted Democrat, and 5.4 percent (5,339) voted for other candidates. 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 on the following statement: “I believe abortion should be abolished in Texas.” Out of Lubbock County’s 21,466 votes, 15,480 voted in favor of the idea of abolishing abortion in the state of Texas, and 5,986 voted against the idea of abolishing abortion in the state of Texas.

The interest to see abortion outlawed in Slaton started in September 2020, when citizen Brandi Everett became the first to sign the online petition. Everett’s reasoning for wanting to see abortion outlawed in Slaton, as indicated on her online petition, was simple. Everett wrote, “I want to see abortion outlawed in Slaton, Texas, because it is the murder of unborn children and is wrong.” At the time, only 14 cities in the entire state had passed such ordinances. Of those 14 cities, only four were in West Texas: Westbrook (pop. 312), Colorado City (pop. 4,146), Big Spring (pop.28,862), and Whiteface (pop. 499).

The second resident from Slaton to sign the petition was Chalon Goodley, who served as president of the Lubbock Area Republican Women. Goodley saw abortion as the “killing of innocent lives of babies” and declared that the practice of abortion must end. Goodley was an active part of the campaign to see the City of Lubbock become a Sanctuary City for the Unborn and helped organize Lubbock’s March For Life in January, an event held outside the Lubbock Planned Parenthood. By the time the citizens of Lubbock passed their ordinance through a ballot initiative on May 1, six more cities in West Texas had passed ordinances outlawing abortion: New Home (pop. 320), Morton (pop. 2,006), Ackerly (pop. 251), Goldsmith (pop. 257), Carbon (pop. 348), and Gorman (pop. 1,083).

After the Lubbock vote, four more cities in West Texas followed suit, including Abernathy (pop. 2,839), Levelland (pop. 14,582), Sundown (pop. 1,397), and Sterling City (pop. 888). Having been a part of the Lubbock victory in May, Goodley was anxious to see her city outlaw abortion as well. A director from Right To Life of East Texas assisted West Texas For Life and Goodley with the drafting of an ordinance outlawing abortion, which had been tailored to fit the City of Slaton. The Slaton ordinance was introduced and discussed before the Slaton City Commission on Monday, July 12, but it did not receive its first reading until November 15, 2021.

Between the time the Slaton ordinance was introduced and when it received its first reading, five more cities had passed ordinances outlawing abortion in West Texas: Eastland (3,970), Impact (pop. 20), Nazareth (pop. 311), Cisco (pop. 3,913), and Anson (pop. 2,556). At this point, Goodley was convinced that it was time for her city to join that number.

On November 15, 2021, the first reading vote on the passage of the Slaton ordinance by the Slaton City Commission was 4-1. At their following meeting, on December 13, the Slaton City Commission passed the ordinance in a second and final reading with a vote of 5-0, becoming the 43rd city in the nation, the 39th city in Texas, and the 21st city in West Texas to pass an ordinance outlawing abortion within their city limits.

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

Many residents of the Slaton community believe that this measure will have a lasting impact on the city. With tears rolling down her face, Slaton resident Stacey Saahir shared, “My hope has been restored that the evil act of abortion would eventually be abolished! Even if it’s one heart, one city, or one state at a time.” Slaton resident Lisa Dominguez shared, “I believe Slaton becoming a Sanctuary City for the Unborn will allow our city to maintain the serene nature of this community.”

West Texas for Life President Jim Baxa praised the outcome, stating, “West Texas for Life is thrilled to see that grassroots leaders in Slaton continued pushing their city commission to outlaw abortion in Slaton.”

The day after the vote, in an interview with Everything Lubbock, Slaton Mayor Cliffton Shaw brought attention to the troubling fact that “sea turtles get more respect than a human fetus does in this country,” and that the passage of the ordinance was “more of a feel-good measure” since Slaton does not have an abortion facility or a hospital that does abortions. Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn Initiative Ambassador Kati Morris gave commentary to this statement, sharing, “I suppose you can say the Slaton ordinance is a feel-good measure in the same way that having car insurance is a feel-good measure.” Morris continued, “Nobody wants to get in a car wreck, but if they do, then they are glad they have insurance. Nobody wants to see babies murdered in their cities, but if it does happen, this ordinance being on the books will provide consequences for those actions.”

Slaton will not likely be the last city in West Texas to outlaw abortion. When the news of Slaton outlawing abortion reached Scott Beard, pastor of FountainGate Fellowship in Abilene, Texas, it caused him to pause and celebrate. “I’m proud of my hometown, Slaton, Texas. My prayer is that Abilene will follow your lead!” Having spoken in support of the ordinance outlawing abortion before Abilene’s City Council in January 2020, Pastor Scott Beard is now leading the effort to see abortion outlawed the “hard way,” through the provision in Abilene’s city charter known as “Initiative and Referendum.” The City of San Angelo is also going through the same process, with their collection of petition signatures having been turned in for verification last Friday.

Outside of Abilene (population 124,407) and San Angelo (pop. 101,612) residents in many other cities are working hard to see abortion outlawed, including the cities of Chandler (pop. 3,219), Plainview (pop. 22,343), and Amarillo (pop. 199,924). Those who wish to see their city follow suit are encouraged to sign the online petition on the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn website.

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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