For several years, many citizens throughout Amarillo have wanted to see their city pass an ordinance outlawing abortion and become a “sanctuary city for the unborn.” For several years, that effort has been delayed – mostly due to leadership not having the appetite to consider such an ordinance. But now things are different, now the City of Amarillo has new leadership and that leadership appears to be willing to consider such an ordinance.

So far, a total of 67 cities and 5 counties across 7 states have passed ordinances prohibiting abortion within their city and county limits. Out of these 72 political subdivisions, a total of 53 governments are found in the State of Texas. The largest of these are cities like Lubbock (pop. 264,000), Odessa (pop. 125,413), Abilene (pop. 124,407), and San Angelo (pop. 101,612).

Of these four cities, three of them were passed after Roe v. Wade was overturned and after state laws came back into play that prohibited abortion from the moment of conception throughout the entire state. Every one of these cities has ordinances which do more than our current state laws, as these ordinances seek to do as much as they can to make sure the abortion industry never returns and takes up residency in their city.

In 1968, an abortionist by the name of Curtis Wayne Boyd committed over 10,000 illegal abortions in Athens, Texas – five years before the Roe v. Wade ruling, in a state which had completely outlawed abortion. Unfortunately, the state laws were not being enforced, and Henderson County Health Officer Curtis Wayne Boyd was getting away with murder. Had there been an ordinance passed in Athens then, like the one which has been given to the City of Amarillo, then perhaps Curtis Wayne Boyd would have been stopped and those 10,000 lives could have been saved.

In 1973, after the ruling in Roe v. Wade (1973), Curtis Wayne Boyd returned to Texas to open up the first “legal” abortion facility in the state of Texas. The abortion facility was located in Dallas. Since Boyd started committing abortions, he has committed over 250,000 abortions by himself, with his two abortion facilities in Texas and New Mexico being responsible for over 500,000 abortions. If only he had been stopped in Athens, then perhaps that reign of terror would have never happened. By passing this ordinance in Amarillo, Texas, the Mayor and City Council of Amarillo would be doing their part to stop the next Curtis Wayne Boyd.

While a variety of different versions of the Amarillo Sanctuary City for the Unborn Ordinance have been floating around, the version that has most recently been sent to the Mayor is one that has been stripped down to six key provisions. It is not enforced by the City of Amarillo, but is enforced by private citizens through the filing of civil lawsuits.

The proposed ordinance (1) prohibits elective abortions and the aiding or abetting of elective abortions within city limits – extending the private enforcement mechanism found in the Texas Heartbeat Act from the point of detectable heartbeat to the point of conception, (2) prohibits elective abortions or the aiding or abetting of elective abortions on residents who live within the city limits – regardless of the location of the abortion, (3) prohibits the manufacturing, possession, or distribution of abortion-inducing drugs within the city limits, and (4) prohibits abortion trafficking and the aiding or abetting of abortion trafficking within the city limits – making it illegal for abortion traffickers to use any roads or runways within the city limits.

Lastly, the ordinance (5) prohibits the transport of the remains of unborn children who have been killed by an elective abortion from any abortion provider into the city limits, prohibiting also the disposal of such remains within the city limits and (6) prohibits organizations seeking to profit off of the murder of innocent unborn children from operating or doing business within the city limits. These six provisions all do something that current law in Texas does not, and would make Amarillo one of the safest cities in Texas for pregnant mothers and their unborn children.

Of these six provisions, the one that has gotten the most press as of late has been the provision that prohibits abortion trafficking. Abortion trafficking occurs when someone traffics a pregnant mother across state lines for an abortion. Cities and counties which have passed abortion trafficking ordinances include: Odessa, Little River-Academy, Mitchell County, Goliad County, and Cochran County.

These ordinances have drawn the criticism of many well-known Democrat abortion advocates, including: former Texas Senator Wendy Davis, former U.S. Representative Beto O’Rourke, current U.S. Representative Colin Allred, and New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham. Most of their critiques are based upon inaccurate portrayals of the ordinance.

Some opponents to the measures suggest the ordinances would set up checkpoints along major roads. Truth be told, nothing in the ordinance says anything about checkpoints. In fact, the ordinance actually forbids the local government from enforcing the ordinance – as the ordinance is meant to be enforced purely through private citizens filing a civil suit against anyone found in violation of the ordinance.

Some in opposition raise concerns that such an ordinance violates the right to travel, but it does no such thing. The abortion trafficking ordinance does not violate the right to travel. What the ordinance does do, however, is as much as we can possibly do to protect life on this side of the Texas-New Mexico border. Nothing in this ordinance states that women cannot travel outside the State of Texas. What this ordinance does say, however, is that it is against the law to assist with trafficking a woman across state lines for the purpose of aborting her unborn child.

When commenting on the abortion trafficking ordinance passed in Cochran County, Texas, KOAT Albuquerque legal expert John Day said, “The issue is if you’re in the state of Texas, you’re subject to Texas laws. And there’s nothing that New Mexico could do to provide immunity for anyone who’s caught up in this issue in Texas.”

The abortion trafficking provision of the proposed Amarillo Ordinance tracks the current wording of the federal Mann Act of 1910 almost verbatim, with the exception that we have a broader definition of the prohibited purposes. Our prohibited purposes include abortion trafficking. Abortion trafficking would have fallen within the erstwhile “immoral purpose” definition of the Mann Act. Since all previous iterations of the Mann Act were upheld as constitutional, the abortion trafficking provision should survive any court challenge regarding its constitutionality.

A letter signed by Senators and Representatives across Texas this summer encourages municipalities across Texas to consider these types of “abortion trafficking” ordinances.

The letter states:

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 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), Geanie W. Morrison (HD 30), Mark Dorazio (HD 122), Matt Schaefer (HD 6), Carrie Isaac (HD 73), and Senators Charles Perry (SD 28), Mayes Middleton (SD 11), Bryan Hughes (SD 1), Tan Parker (SD 12), Donna Campbell (SD 25), and Lois W. Kolkhorst (SD 18).

The proposed measure does not just have support from State Legislators. The proposed ordinance has gotten the attention of Sheena Rodriguez, President of Alliance for a Safe Texas. The mission statement for Alliance for a Safe Texas reads, “The mission of Alliance for a Safe Texas is to inform and educate our fellow Texans about the consequences of illegal immigration and open border policies. Alliance for a Safe Texas fights to combat this using a three-prong approach; 1. Through legislative, city, and county efforts, 2. Providing support to border counties and law enforcement throughout Texas, 3. Exposing the truth of the horrific realities that impact our southern border and affect every corner of our great state and nation.” When addressing the importance of the ordinance, Rodriguez shared, “Due to its location, Amarillo is an important location to pass the Sanctuary City for the Unborn ordinance to help save the beating hearts of unborn Texans from Amarillo and across our state.” Rodriguez continued, “Abortion trafficking of exploited victims from the Houston and Dallas/Fort Worth areas go through Amarillo to travel to New Mexico for abortion services. Houston and the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex areas are the two top sex trafficking hubs of Texas. I pray that the City Council of Amarillo will help to save innocent unborn babies and help stop the exploitation of trafficking victims.”

The ordinance has also gotten the attention of area Republican groups. Jacob Meyer, founder of the Amarillo Area Young Republicans (AAYRs) shared, “One of the primary tenets of the Republican Party is that preborn children have a fundamental right to life which shall not be infringed.” Meyers continued, “I fully support the proposed Amarillo ordinance as it will frustrate efforts to traffic women seeking to abort their preborn children across state lines and would thwart trafficking aborted fetal remains into our community.”

Jana May, with the High Plains Republican Women, also weighed in on the matter. May shared, “High Plains Republican Women supports the ordinance for making Amarillo a Sanctuary City for the Unborn. We align ourselves with God’s Word and fervently hope that the Amarillo City Council will vote for what they know to be right and moral.”

Alex Casias Jr., Chapter President of the Young Conservatives of Texas at West Texas A&M (YCTWT) said that they stand strongly in support of unborn babies, further sharing, “A Sanctuary City for the Unborn Ordinance would prevent any abortion services from operating in the community and would prevent abortion trafficking across city limits.” Casias continued, “We at YCTWT will help in any way to continue the fight to protect unborn babies and ensure that this ordinance gets passed with overwhelming support from the community.”

Jonathan F. Mitchell, former Solicitor General of Texas and architect of the private enforcement mechanism of the Texas Heartbeat Act, has committed to represent the City of Amarillo at no cost to the city and taxpayers for any litigation that may arise from the passage of the proposed Sanctuary City for the Unborn ordinance.

It’s time to see Amarillo become a Sanctuary City for the Unborn.

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.

RELATED POSTS

5/23/24 TLR Spending Big to Help Incumbents

- Texans for Lawsuit Reform PAC spends to save incumbents. - Abbott joins fellow Republican Governors in opposing World Health Organization Treaty. - Update from RPT Convention.