With help from a friend who lives outside of the city limits, a City Councilman from Jasper, Texas (pop. 7,714) has begun a citizen initiative petition process outlined in their city charter to force a public vote on an ordinance outlawing abortion in the City of Jasper and declaring the city a ‘Sanctuary City for the Unborn.’

According to Section 7.02 of the Jasper City Charter, “Qualified voters of the City of Jasper may initiate legislation by submitting a petition addressed to the city council which request the submission of a proposed ordinance or resolution to a vote of the qualified voters of the city. Said petition must be signed by qualified voters of the city equal in number to twenty percent of the number of votes cast at the last regular municipal election of the city, or one hundred fifty, whichever is greater.” Those behind the initiative are seeking to obtain about 150 qualified signatures in order to accomplish a successful citizen initiative.

According to the Jasper City Charter, the City Secretary will have five days after the filing of the petition to present the proposed ordinance to the Jasper City Council. Once the proposed ordinance is presented to the City Council they will have ten days to either (1) “pass and adopt such ordinance . . . without alteration as to meaning or effect in the opinion of the persons filing the petition,” or (2) to “call a special election, to be held within thirty days thereafter, at which the qualified voters of the City of Jasper shall vote on the question of adopting or rejecting the proposed legislation.”

If the Jasper City Council were to choose option #2, the special election would not be “thirty days thereafter” but at the next uniform election date – which would be November 8, 2022. This is because the Texas Election Code, which governs all elections, supersedes the Jasper City Charter and only allows for special elections to take place on uniform election dates. This is important and must be followed because, according to Section 41.008 of the Texas Election Code, any election held on a date not permitted by the Texas Election Code is considered void.

The proposed Jasper Ordinance Outlawing Abortion reads, “It shall be unlawful for any person to procure or perform an elective abortion of any type and at any stage of pregnancy in the city of Jasper, Texas. The prohibition . . . extends to drug-induced abortions in which any portion of the drug regimen is ingested in the city of Jasper, Texas, and it applies regardless of where the person who performs or procures the abortion is located” and “It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly aid or abet an abortion.”

The proposed Jasper Ordinance Outlawing Abortion goes on to state, “It shall be unlawful for any resident of Jasper to knowingly engage in conduct that aids or abets an elective abortion, regardless of: (1) The location of the abortion; and (2) The law in the jurisdiction where the abortion occurs.”

Written for a Post-Roe v. Wade Texas, the proposed Jasper Ordinance goes as far as possible to protect the residents of Jasper from abortion in a Post-Roe America.

Out of the 50 cities in the United States which have passed ordinances outlawing abortion, 49 cities have completed the process by a vote of their mayor and city council. The only sanctuary city for the unborn that did not outlaw abortion through their mayor and city council was the city of Lubbock, whose residents passed an ordinance outlawing abortion through the citizen initiative petition process.

Due to similar citizen initiative petition processes, residents of the cities of San Angelo (pop. 101,612), Abilene (pop. 124,407), and Plainview (pop. 22,343) will be voting on city ordinances outlawing abortion in the upcoming election on November 8, 2022. It has yet to be determined if Athens, Texas (pop. 13,121) will be joining the three other Texas cities on the November ballot.

Right To Life of East Texas believes that every citizen of Jasper should know about this petition, be able to read the ordinance if they choose to do so, and have the opportunity to sign the petition if they so desire.

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.