Abortion is now outlawed in Gorman, Texas.

The vote took place on Thursday, March 4, at Gorman City Hall. The vote, cast by Gorman’s four female city commissioners, was unanimous.

In taking this action, the City of Gorman, located 70 miles southeast of Abilene and 100 miles southwest of Fort Worth, became the 21st city in Texas to ban abortion within its city limits. The vote came nine days after the City of Carbon, located 11 miles northwest, became the first city to outlaw abortion in the area.

The Gorman Ordinance Outlawing Abortion 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 Gorman, Texas.

The ordinance also says, “It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly aid or abet an abortion that occurs in the City of Gorman, Texas.”

“This is a no-brainer,” said City Commissioner Vicki Brown. “I think we don’t have a choice. This is what we do. This is what we have to do. For the good of this town. For the good of the students. For the good of this community and the people who are around us.”

Mayor David Perry was fully supportive of the city commissioners’ vote. “I feel it is very important for small towns like Gorman to pass this Sanctuary City ordinance simply because of the message it sends to the people outside of the community, but especially to all of the children and the citizens of the community,” Mayor Perry said.

Abortion is defined by the ordinance as:

[T]he 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 term does not include birth control devices or oral contraceptives, and the ordinance is 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; remove a dead, unborn child whose death was caused by accidental miscarriage; or remove an ectopic pregnancy.

Unlike Sanctuary Cities for Illegal Immigrants, cities that have adopted the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn ordinances are not violating any federal laws. This is because the entire ordinance stands in line with the United States Constitution, the Texas Constitution, and all federal and state laws.

All of this is explained as part of the 10 findings, which are listed at the beginning of the Gorman Ordinance. These findings address the Constitutional Basis (A1), Unrepealed State Law Basis (A2-4), the Separation of Powers Basis (A5-6), the Texas Murder Statute Basis (A7), the Texas Health and Safety Code Basis (A8), and the Local Government Code Basis (A9-10).

The Gorman Ordinance has two major enforcement mechanisms.

The public enforcement mechanism establishes fines against the abortionist and anyone who aids and abets the abortionist for any abortion that takes place within city limits.

The ordinance makes it clear that these fines cannot be imposed unless it is determined that the individual seeking to impose the penalty will not create an “undue burden” on women seeking abortions.

This is only one section of the ordinance, and the enforceability of this section is not immediate, but dependent upon other factors.

Unlike the public enforcement mechanism, however, the private enforcement mechanism is immediately enforceable.

The private enforcement section of the ordinance states:

Any person, corporation, or entity that commits an unlawful act … other than the mother of the unborn child that has been aborted, shall be liable in tort to a surviving relative of the aborted unborn child, including the unborn child’s mother, father, grandparents, siblings or half-siblings. The person or entity that committed the unlawful act shall be liable to each surviving relative of the aborted unborn child for: (a) Compensatory damages, including damages for emotional distress; (b) Punitive damages; and (c) Costs and attorneys’ fees.

Section F-4 of the ordinance reads, “Private enforcement … may be brought against any person, corporation, or entity that commits an unlawful act … upon the effective date of the ordinance, regardless of whether the Supreme Court has overruled Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), or Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992), and regardless of whether the current jurisprudence of the Supreme Court permits states and municipalities to punish those who violate abortion prohibitions.”

Gorman’s ordinance is also clear that abortion is outlawed even if public enforcement is delayed upon other factors.

Section E4 states:

The non-imposition of the penalties described in Section E(1) does not in any way legalize the conduct that has been outlawed in Section D, and it does not in any way limit or effect [sic] the availability of the private-enforcement remedies established in Section F. Abortion remains and is to be regarded as an illegal act under city law and a criminal act under state law, except when abortion is necessary to save the life of the mother. And abortion remains outlawed under both city and state law, despite the temporary and partial inability of city and state officials to punish those who violate the abortion laws on account of the Supreme Court’s decision making.

Gorman is not expected to be the last city in Texas to outlaw abortion. Efforts by community leaders to see abortion outlawed in their cities are currently underway in cities like Tulia, Athens, and Odessa.

The citizens of Lubbock will vote on outlawing abortion within their city limits on May 1.

For more information about the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn initiative, visit www.sanctuarycitiesfortheunborn.com City officials interested in seeing their city pass an enforceable ordinance outlawing abortion are encouraged to email markleedickson@gmail.com.

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.