Abortion and abortion trafficking have been outlawed in Goliad County (pop. 7,012), with several protections being added to protect pregnant mothers and their unborn children. The ordinance, which was placed on the agenda by Judge Mike Bennett, was passed in a unanimous 4-0 vote by Commissioners Kenneth Edward, David Young, Kirby Brumby, and Kevin Fagg. The passage of the measure made Goliad County the second county in Texas to outlaw abortion trafficking and the 52nd political subdivision to have outlawed abortion in the State of Texas.

In addition to prohibiting elective abortions and the aiding or abetting of elective abortions within the unincorporated area of Goliad County, the ordinance also prohibits the performing of elective abortion and the aiding or abetting of an elective abortion performed on a resident of the unincorporated area of Goliad County “regardless of the location of the abortion, regardless of the law in the jurisdiction where the abortion occurred, and regardless of whether the person knew or should have known that the abortion was performed or induced on a resident of the unincorporated area of Goliad County.”

The ordinance also prohibits abortion-inducing drugs within the unincorporated area of Goliad County, prohibits the transport and disposal of aborted fetal remains from any abortion provider within the unincorporated area of Goliad County, prohibits criminal organizations from operating within the unincorporated area of Goliad County, and prohibits abortion trafficking by making it unlawful “for any person to knowingly transport any individual for the purpose of providing or obtaining an elective abortion, regardless of where the elective abortion will occur” as long as such activity “begins, ends, or passes through the unincorporated area of Goliad County.”

This means that it is now illegal for anyone to use the sections of Hwy 59, Hwy 183, Hwy 239, Hwy 119, and all sections of all other roads found in the unincorporated area of Goliad County for the purpose of abortion trafficking. Because of this, those who live within Goliad County are now prohibited from driving people out of Goliad County who are seeking to obtain an elective abortion in another state – as such actions would be considered abortion trafficking. This also means that those who are transporting women from other parts of Texas, who are seeking to obtain an elective abortion in a state like New Mexico, cannot pass through Goliad County – as those actions would also be considered abortion trafficking.

Like the Texas Heartbeat Act, the Goliad County Ordinance is only enforced through a private enforcement mechanism—allowing lawsuits to be filed by citizens against anyone who is in violation of the ordinance. The Goliad County Ordinance does not allow for any lawsuit to be filed against the mother of the unborn child, but only allows for actions to be taken against those who are assisting her in the killing of her child — when they cross the unincorporated area of Goliad County.

Goliad Native and co-founder of the San Antonio Family Association, Patrick Von Dohlen, stated, “This day will be a day to remember Goliad again! ‘Remember Goliad!’ was integral to the battle cry of Texas and the Texian victory at the Battle of San Jacinto when Texas won its freedom from Mexico and its tyrannical dictator, Presidente General Santa Anna, who was an abuser of women and children.” Von Dohlen continued, “Today, five Texas men on the County Commissioners Court exhibited their faith in God and valiant courage to outlaw abortion in Goliad County. Goliad will be remembered again, but this time not for who was massacred here but who was saved from being massacred. Goliad County and its residents will now officially help protect young girls from being sexually trafficked and many children won’t be murdered through abortion.”

Sheena Rodriguez, President of Alliance for a Safe Texas, was present for the meeting and stood in full support of the measure. Rodriguez shared, “Abortions have always been used by traffickers as a tool to cover up the exploitation and sexual abuse of women and children. Now, with the unprecedented border crisis, we are seeing large numbers of unaccompanied minors smuggled into our state and forced into trafficking rings in Texas and throughout the United States. While many in our society are turning a blind eye to the mass exploitation of an already vulnerable population, the Goliad County Commission has taken a bold step to end the use of their roads for abortion trafficking.”

Rodriguez continued, “By prohibiting the use of their roads for abortion trafficking, the Goliad County Commission is doing their part to help keep sex traffickers and abortion assistance groups like Frontera Fund out of Goliad County.”

In an official statement, Goliad County Judge Mike Bennett wrote, “On September 28, 2023, the Goliad County Commissioners Court passed an ordinance that designated Goliad County as a sanctuary County for the unborn. We as a court believe that all have the right to life and pledge that we will stand firm for that right. I encourage every county in Texas to join us in the effort to protect the unborn.”

The effort to outlaw abortion trafficking in counties across Texas has received much support. Prior to their vote, the Goliad County Commission received a letter from senators and representatives across the State of Texas. The letter read:

While it is true that abortion is outlawed in the entire State of Texas, from the point of conception, our work is far from over. Right now, throughout the State of Texas, women are being trafficked across our borders by abortion traffickers funded by abortion trafficking organizations still operating in our state. As a result, these women are being abused and traumatized by abortion across our Texas-New Mexico border and sent back to Texas for our cities and counties to deal with the aftermath taking place in our homes, our schools, our churches, and our hospitals. The Sanctuary for the Unborn ordinances seek to protect these institutions by putting safeguards in place to protect men, women, and their children for years to come. These ordinances, which seek to close as many loopholes as possible, do not penalize women who seek or undergo abortions, but places the penalty on the party who most deserves it — the abortionist and the industry profiting from the unjust procedure, including abortion traffickers.

While we intend to do our part to keep our strong pro-life protections for mothers and their unborn children, we believe it will help for cities and counties to do their part as well. As state elected officials who are trusted by Pro-Life Texans to stand for life at every available opportunity, we believe this is a viable and crucial opportunity for local governments to protect their most vulnerable members. We look forward to partnering with you as we seek to defend innocent human life at every level of government.

Signers of the letter, dated August 21, 2023, included: Representatives Dustin Burrows (HD 83), Carl Tepper (HD 84), Jeff Leach (HD 67), Jared Patterson (HD 106), Briscoe Cain (HD 128), Greg Bonnen (HD 24), James Frank (HD 69), Cole Heffner (HD 5), Stephanie Klick (HD 91), Ellen Troxclair (HD 19), and Senators Charles Perry (SD 28) and Mayes Middleton (SD 11).

After the letter was initially released, more elected officials asked for their name to be added to the letter in support. These include: Representatives Matt Schaefer (HD 6), Carrie Isaac (HD 73), Geanie W. Morrison (HD 30), and Senators Bryan Hughes (SD 1) and Lois Kolkhorst (SD 18).

The Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn initiative has seen a total of 67 cities and four counties pass ordinances in seven different states—all prohibiting abortion within their jurisdiction. More Sanctuary Counties for the Unborn are expected in the near future. On the same day that Goliad passed their ordinance, the Commissioners of Mason County, Texas, voted 4-0 to place a ‘Sanctuary County for the Unborn’ ordinance on the agenda at their next commission meeting.

Residents who are interested in seeing their city or county pass an ordinance outlawing abortion trafficking are encouraged to sign the online petition at the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn Initiative 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 and the founder of the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn Initiative.