What’s next for the Sanctuary city for the Unborn ordinance?

Updated: Nov. 18, 2020 at 7:10 PM CST
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - After more than five hours of public forum Tuesday night into early Wednesday morning, Lubbock city council unanimously voted to reject the sanctuary city for the unborn ordinance because they said it is “unconstitutional and unenforceable.”

There is still a way to revive the ordinance by putting it on the ballot. However, based on the wording of this ordinance, it would not outlaw abortion immediately- rather it it deters doctors and entities from performing abortions by threatening civil lawsuits.

What’s actually in the ordinance?

There are three parts to this ordinance. Two sections would not go into effect unless Roe v. Wade is overturned by the Supreme Court. The third section would be effective if the ordinance is passed, but it does not outright prevent abortions- rather it deters those who provide abortions through threat of civil lawsuits.

The first part would outlaw abortion in Lubbock:

“(1)ABORTION — 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.

(2) AIDING OR ABETTING AN ABORTION — It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly aid or abet an abortion that occurs in the City of Lubbock, Texas.”

The second part, called Public Enforcement, would punish providers of abortions with a fine of two thousand dollars, as listed in Local Gov’t Code §§ 54.001(b)(1).

“Any person, corporation, or entity who commits an unlawful act described in Section D shall be subject to the maximum penalty permitted under Texas law for the violation of a municipal ordinance governing public health, and each violation shall constitute a separate offense. See Tex. Local Gov’t Code §§ 54.001(b)(1);”

These two sections cannot go into effect until Roe versus Wade is overturned:

“Neither the City of Lubbock, nor any of its officers or employees, nor any district or county attorney, nor any executive or administrative officer or employee of any state or local governmental entity, may impose or threaten to impose the penalty described in Section E(1) unless and until: (a) The Supreme Court overrules Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992), and permits states and municipalities to punish anyone who violates an abortion prohibition.”

The Texas statutes listed in the ordinance have already been shut down by the supreme court, as written in the Roe v. Wade documents.

“If you look at Roe versus Wade, and on my copy its on page 23, it says article 192 is unconstitutional and that means, of course, that the Texas abortion statutes as a unit must fall,” Council woman Latrelle Joy said during Tuesday’s city council meeting.

However, there is one section that would go into effect immediately. This portion is called Private Enforcement.

It does not stop abortions, but it would allow family members of the aborted fetus to sue anyone, or any company that performs or plans to perform an abortion. If family members win the civil lawsuit, every relative of the unborn fetus can receive damages. They can file at anytime.

“Any person, corporation, or entity that commits an unlawful act described in Section D(1) or D(2), other than the mother of the unborn child that has been aborted, shall be liable in tort to the unborn child’s mother, father, grandparents, siblings and 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.”

In addition, the ordinance states any citizen could enforce this ordinance and shall be awarded for bringing action against an abortion provider.

“Any private citizen of Texas, other than the individuals described in Section F(3), may bring an action to enforce this ordinance against a person or entity that has committed an unlawful act described in Section D, or that commits or plans to commit an unlawful act described in Section D, and shall be awarded”

How does the ordinance get to the ballot box?

For starters, the seven people who proposed the ordinance have twenty days to file a certificate with the city secretary claiming they want the ordinance on the ballot.

She will bring the document to the next city council meeting, which is Dec. 7.

Then city council will take steps to put it on the ballot for the upcoming election.

If the majority of voters vote in favor, then it will become local law.

For a full look at the charter rules, click here.


‘Sanctuary for the Unborn’ ordinance proposed to City Council

City Council legal briefing on Sanctuary City for the Unborn proposal identifies “major conflicts” with Texas law

Sanctuary city for the unborn petition recognized by city council, public forum on Nov. 17

150+ people speak in-person during Sanctuary for the Unborn ordinance public forum

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