Texas Town With No Abortion Clinics Bans the Procedure, Declares Itself ‘sanctuary City for the Unborn'

A small town along Texas' border with Louisiana has declared itself a "sanctuary city for the unborn" after its all-male council adopted a strict anti-abortion measure Tuesday.The ordinance adopted in Waskom, shared with The Dallas Morning News by the The Marshall News Messenger, classifies abortion as murder and deems groups that perform or assist in obtaining abortions to be criminal organizations. "The Supreme Court erred in Roe v. Wade ... when it said that pregnant women have a constitutional right to abort their pre-born children," the ordinance says. "There is no language anywhere in the Constitution that even remotely suggests that abortion is a constitutional right."People are prohibited from helping someone obtain an abortion, including by providing transportation, money or instructions, and the ordinance also removes access to Plan B emergency contraception. But none of these measures will be enforced until, and unless, Roe vs. Wade is overturned.The Washington Post reported that council members took the step as a preventive measure, as there are no abortion clinics in Waskom. Anti-abortion activists had feared a recent abortion ban in Louisiana might cause a provider to move there from Shreveport, according to the Post.University of North Texas political science professor Dr. Kimi King said the ordinance is meant to prepare the town for a Supreme Court decision overturning Roe vs. Wade, after which each state would have the authority to regulate abortion within its borders."They're getting ready for the next legal stage of Roe v. Wade," King said.Mark Lee Dickson, the director for Right to Life of East Texas, lobbied for the ordinance, though he said he did not agree with all of its exceptions. It allows abortions in cases of rape, incest or when the mother's life is in danger, exceptions that are significant to avoid legal challenges."Yes, FIVE men on a City Council voted YES to outlaw abortions in their city," Dickson said in a Facebook post. "What a great response their vote was to Roe v. Wade. It is good to see the men of Waskom rise up to protect women and children."In its exceptions for rape and incest, the ordinance specifies that the crimes must have been reported to law enforcement. But more than 75% of rapes in the United States are not reported to police, according to federal data from 2010 to 2016 analyzed by the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.King said these details wouldn't come into play until someone challenges the ordinance — but in Waskom, that's unlikely to happen. Because the town has no abortion providers, the ordinance is largely symbolic, King said."This is part of a nationwide trend of aggressively challenging abortion laws that has been happening for the last 15 to 20 years," she said. "After Planned Parenthood v. Casey, that opened the door for increased legal challenges."That 1992 Supreme Court's decision upheld Roe vs. Wade but created a precedent allowing states to regulate abortions at an earlier point in pregnancy.Waskom's ordinance follows a series of recent headline-making statewide measures in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Ohio that restrict abortion access, with some, like Alabama's, an effective ban. King also noted that recent federal court appointments have made challenges to Roe vs. Wade more likely to succeed. A number of abortion-rights groups, including NARAL and Planned Parenthood, decried the town's measure, saying they wouldn't be intimidated by the move.Planned Parenthood's interim executive director, Dyana Limon-Mercado, said Waskom's ordinance was part of a nationwide attack on reproductive rights."The intent of this local ordinance passed by an all-male city council is clear: ban abortion and punish anyone who tries to access care or even help Texans considering an abortion," Limon-Mercado said. "This is an attack on the rights of everyone who might or can get pregnant."  Continue reading...

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