A city that received its start as a sanctuary for the sale of liquor is now a sanctuary for unborn children. Impact (population 20), located within the City of Abilene (population 124,407), is one of the smallest cities in the State of Texas and is now a sanctuary for the smallest and most vulnerable among Texans.

In an unanimous vote of 3-0, Impact became the 35th city in Texas (and the 38th city in the nation) to pass an enforceable ordinance outlawing abortion within their city limits. Many attribute this high number of cities outlawing abortion to the Biden administration’s commitment to seeing abortion access in every zip code in the United States.

Impact’s decision gained praise from Taylor County Republican Party Chairman Chris Carnohan. “In the spirit of uniting and empowering those who stand appalled by more than 65 million heartless executions of the Unborn since Roe v. Wade in 1973, I salute the brave and upright action of the City of Impact, Texas,” he said. “In these troubled times, all who believe in the sanctity of life should also pause and give thanks for the Impact’s meaningful action in joining the Sanctuary Cities movement.”

As an eternal optimist, I exhort Impact’s action as a brave and resolute step in making Texas a Sanctuary State for the Unborn.

Impact became incorporated in 1960 and spiraled into controversy as it became the first city in Taylor County to vote to allow liquor sales within city limits. The City of Abilene challenged both their incorporation and selling of alcohol, but the Texas Supreme Court ruled in Impact’s favor. The city ended up being the only place in Taylor County where liquor could be purchased legally until 1978, when Abilene citizens legalized the sale of alcohol within their city limits.

With Abilene permitting the sale of alcohol, Impact ceased to be the liquor capital of Taylor County. Since then, the city no longer has liquor stores and is blending in as another Abilene suburb. With their recent vote, Impact will be free from abortion as well. “Impact is an island of property between two major highways, and I believe with the rise in drug trafficking and illegal immigration, Impact will be used by God as a powerful influence for His Kingdom,” Impact Mayor Trevor Dickson said.

The majority of Taylor County’s voting population are conservative Republicans who wish to see abortion outlawed in the State of Texas. During Taylor County’s 2020 presidential election, 71.7 percent (39,547) voted Republican, 26.5 percent (14,588) voted Democrat, and 1.8 percent (1,000) voted for other candidates. During the 2018 Republican Party primary, Taylor County voters had the opportunity to vote on Proposition 7, which read, “I believe abortion should be abolished in Texas.” Out of 8,250 votes, 6,198 voted in favor of outlawing abortion in Texas, with 2,052 against.

Abilene resident Charles Byrn was there to witness the historic occasion. “Today, the city council voted to be a city that wants a culture of life within their city gates. Every city in Texas should want to protect their citizens and their posterity.” Since the City of Waskom outlawed abortion in 2019, pro-life residents of Abilene have been working to see their city also become a Sanctuary City for the Unborn.

Despite the conservative nature of Abilene, city leadership has been criticized as being less than conservative. At the conclusion of the January 2020 city council meeting, Mayor Anthony Williams said that the Sanctuary City for the Unborn issue would be addressed. “Since we have put this up front in a very public way, we are going to respond in a very public way.” Twenty months later, Mayor Williams still has not responded “in a very public way.”

Pastor Scott Beard of Abilene’s Fountain Gate Fellowship is hopeful the city that once inspired Abilene to become a “wet city” will now inspire it to outlaw abortion.

While some cities across the United States have passed resolutions declaring themselves a “sanctuary city for the unborn,” those resolutions are just statements that do not outlaw anything. In passing an enforceable ordinance, the city leadership of Impact recognized—along with 34 cities in Texas, two in Nebraska, and one in Ohio—that it is not good enough to say they valued the lives of their unborn neighbors if there were no actions to do so.

The Impact Ordinance Outlawing Abortion states, “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 Impact, Texas.” It also states, “It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly aid or abet an abortion that occurs in the City of Impact, 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.” The ordinance is clear that the term does not include birth-control devices or oral contraceptives. It is not an abortion if the act is done with the intent to “save the life or preserve the health of an unborn child,” to “remove a dead, unborn child whose death was caused by accidental miscarriage,” or to “remove an ectopic pregnancy.”

Other cities in Texas where residents are working to see abortion outlawed include Merkel (pop. 2,643), Anson (pop. 2,556), Tulia (pop. 4,967), Plainview (pop. 22,343), San Angelo (pop. 101,612), and Amarillo (pop. 199,924).

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.