The city of Waskom took a stand against abortion Tuesday with the City Council unanimously voting to make the procedure illegal in the city, declaring itself Texas’ first “sanctuary city for the unborn.”
Waskom Mayor Jesse Moore said the City Council was happy to support Right to Life of East Texas in the historic move by adopting a resolution and an ordinance.
“Right to Life approached us because the abortion laws are changing in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi that the abortion clinics may start moving to Texas,” Moore said. “With Waskom being the first city, 18 miles (west) from (Shreveport) Louisiana, they were anticipating one moving over here.
“The citizens in Waskom, they don’t want to have an abortion clinic in Waskom, so they presented the board last night with an ordinance and resolution that will make abortions in the city of Waskom a criminal offense,” the mayor said.
He said the action won’t stop abortion clinics from moving to Waskom, “but if they do, they’ll be breaking the law.”
The passing of the ordinance comes at the heels of legislation signed Friday by Gov. Greg Abbott that prohibits cities and counties from doing certain business with abortion providers.
According to cbs.com, the bill, which takes effect Sept. 1, specifically prevents local governments from entering into reduced tax and lease agreements with such organizations.
It also prevents cities and counties from “advocacy or lobbying on behalf of the interests of an abortion provider or affiliate.” It does not impact hospitals or doctor’s offices that perform fewer than 50 abortions a year.
Moore said when approached by Right to Life about the “sanctuary city for the unborn” ordinance, the city first sought counsel from the city attorney before moving forward.
“Our city attorney was not familiar with abortion clinics, the rules and regulations,” Moore said. “He said he’d have to get some lawyer friends and would have to research it. It could take weeks or months.”
The mayor said he’s glad the ordinance was passed but admits that the unknown of a clinic ever moving there is scary.
“It’s kind of scary because you don’t what’s going to happen here in the near future, but from the support shown from the citizens last night, I think we’ll be able to fight it as far as we have to fight it to keep the law (upheld),” he said.
“Waskom’s known as the gateway to Texas, and we’ll just have to wait and see, because, you know, we’re in some unknown territory that we’ve never even thought about hardly,” Moore said.
According to its Facebook page, Right to Life of East Texas is an organization that exists to promote respect for the worth and dignity of all human life, including the life of the unborn child from the moment of conception.
Mark Lee Dickson, the Right to Life of East Texas director who addressed the City Council on Tuesday, thanked the city for its support.
“Tuesday night was a great victory for life,” Dickson said Wednesday. “The City Council’s vote has had a ripple effect across the state, and people everywhere have been reaching out wanting to know how they can follow in the footsteps of Waskom, Texas, and outlaw abortion in their city.”
Dickson said the ordinance is right in seeking to align itself with the U.S. Constitution and not the Supreme Court’s unlawful court opinion in Roe v. Wade.
“Presenting this ordinance was the RIGHT thing to do,” he wrote in a statement. “Just as it is WRONG for mothers to murder their born children, it is equally WRONG for mothers to murder their preborn children.
“A surgical or a chemical abortion is the purposeful and intentional ending of a human life,” Dickson said. “It is murder with malice aforethought, and it is, and always will be, the WRONG thing to do.”
Dickson said for those who say it does not make sense for the small, vulnerable, innocent city with a population of 2,189 to pass a resolution and an ordinance outlawing abortion and declaring itself to be a sanctuary city for the unborn, he reminded them of more than 20 years ago, when Louisiana’s abortion laws became stricter.
“In the early ‘90s, when the legislation in Louisiana became more and more restrictive, the founder of Hope Medical Group for Women said: ‘If Louisiana is shut down, obviously it would make sense to move right over the line,’” Dickson recalled, referring to a Shreveport Times article during that time that quoted then-Hope Medical Clinic Director Robin Rothrock saying she will move the abortion clinic to Waskom if a federal judge upheld Louisiana’s abortion law, House Bill 112, which outlawed abortion except in cases of rape, incest or to save the mother’s life.
First Baptist Church in Waskom joined Right to Life of East Texas this past Sunday for a gathering called, “The Rally for the Right to Life,” at the church.
Right to Life of East Texas posted on its Facebook page that one of the speakers was Jon Speed from Christ Is King Baptist Church in Syracuse, New York, who presented a document called, “The Resolution for Life.”
The resolution, which was adopted Tuesday by the council, declares “that all human life, including fetal life at every stage of gestation, must always be protected and that society must protect those who cannot protect themselves.”
Speed, who helped Right to Life of East Texas with the earlier versions of the ordinance, said he’s thankful for the boldness of the Waskom City Council.
“Not only were they willing to go beyond a mere proclamation and add an ordinance to the concept of the sanctuary city for the unborn, but they are willing to take this fight to end abortion to the next level,” Speed said. “They are willing to act like people who really believe that abortion is murder.”