Lubbock, Texas (population 264,000), has become the 26th city in the nation to pass an enforceable ordinance outlawing abortion within its city limits and is now the largest city to outlaw abortion in the United States.
The results of the citywide vote were 62.64 percent (21,400 votes) in favor of the ordinance and 37.54 percent (12,860 votes) against the ordinance. Before Lubbock voted to outlaw abortion, the largest city that had done so was Big Spring (population 28,862). Upon hearing of the vote, Big Spring Mayor Shannon Thomason wrote, “On behalf of the City of Big Spring, I extend our congratulations to the citizens of Lubbock on their becoming the largest city in the United States to become a Sanctuary City for the Unborn!”
While many outside of Texas were excited about the ordinance’s passage in Lubbock, none were more excited than the residents of Lubbock themselves.
Abraham Enriquez, president of the nonprofit organization Bienvenido USA, was one of the many residents who praised the victory at a watch party at Trinity Church on Saturday night. “Lubbock sent a resilient message that when the church steps up, goodness prevails,” shared Enriquez. “What a great victory that represents the values of West Texas.”
Betty Cardenas, national chairwoman of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly, agreed with Enriquez. “Lubbock’s heart was reflected in the results we achieved. We fought hard, we fought together, we left everything on the field and trusted God with the rest. Can you imagine the celebration in heaven?”
State Rep. Dustin Burrows, a supporter of the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn Initiative, praised the outcome of the election as “a victory for life and proof that the silent majority will stand up for its Christian conservative values.”
State Sen. Charles Perry stated, “Today, the citizens of Lubbock overwhelmingly voted to affirm the sanctity of life. Effective immediately, abortion has been outlawed within city limits, and Planned Parenthood must stop providing abortions at its Lubbock clinic. Anyone who aids or abets an abortion performed within city limits is now subject to civil lawsuits and potential criminal prosecution. Thank you, Lubbock, for voting for life.”
The Lubbock 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 Lubbock, Texas,” and, “It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly aid or abet an abortion that occurs in the City of Lubbock, Texas.”
Abortion is defined in 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 City of Lubbock is the first city to outlaw abortion through a vote of the residents of their city. Up until this point, every city that has outlawed abortion has done so through their mayor and city council. Lubbock is also the first city to have an abortion facility performing abortions at the time it was outlawed; Planned Parenthood in Lubbock started performing abortions on April 15, just weeks before the May 1 vote.
If the City of Lubbock faces a lawsuit as a result of the ordinance, attorney Jonathan F. Mitchell, the former solicitor general of Texas, has offered to represent the city at no cost to the city or taxpayers. In May 2020, when seven cities in East Texas that had passed the ordinance were sued by the ACLU, Mitchell represented the cities. After three months, the ACLU withdrew its lawsuit. The lawsuit cost the cities and taxpayers nothing—and abortion remains outlawed in every city that was sued.
The Lubbock ordinance outlawing abortion has two major enforcement mechanisms: the public enforcement mechanism and the private enforcement mechanism. The public enforcement mechanism is dependent upon other factors while the private enforcement is immediate.
The public enforcement establishes fines against the abortionist and anyone who aids and abets the abortionist for any abortion that takes place within the city limits of Lubbock. These fines cannot be imposed unless it is determined that the individual seeking to impose the penalty upon the one who committed the unlawful act will not create an “undue burden” on women seeking abortions, the person, corporation, or entity who committed the unlawful act of abortion lacks standing to assert the third-party rights of women seeking abortions in court, or Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey is overturned.
The private enforcement mechanism allows for anyone, including family members of a child killed by abortion, to sue the abortionist or anyone who aids and abets the abortionist in the murder of an unborn child.
The ordinance states, “Any person, corporation, or entity that commits an unlawful … 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 clearly states, “The citizen-suit enforcement action … may be brought on or after the effective date of this ordinance.”
The ordinance does not define abortion to include birth control devices or oral contraceptives, and the ordinance is clear that the act is not considered abortion if it 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.” In addition to these exceptions, the ordinance also gives a life-of-the-mother exception for doctors under affirmative defense since the ordinance does not penalize the mother of the unborn child that has been aborted.
Lubbock outlawing abortion sends a strong message across Texas and the entire United States. Lubbock is the 11th most-populated city in the State of Texas, the 83rd most-populated city out of 19,495 cities in the United States, and in the top 0.4 percent of cities in the nation. Eighteen states do not have a city with a population larger than Lubbock.
The Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn Initiative is not expected to slow down anytime soon, and the ever-growing movement is sending a strong message all across Texas, especially to the Legislature. Perhaps Republican Party Chair Allen West said it best when he said, “Lubbock has shown our Texas GOP legislators that the Republican Party of Texas Legislative Priority to abolish the murder of unborn babies in Texas is achievable.”
More cities are expected to outlaw abortion in the near future.
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 email@example.com.