Holy Ordinance, Batman!

With the upcoming municipal election concerning the “sanctuary city for the unborn” ordinance, I have several questions. I will ask these questions with the utmost respect because there is not a more emotionally driven and divisive issue in all of American politics than abortion. Both sides of the issue deserve respect, so my questions are not to be construed as snarky or snippy. It is my hope to raise the level of debate surrounding the issue.

Citizens Tower (on City of Lubbock’s website)

My first question is why. What is the need for this ordinance? The groups in favor of making Lubbock a sanctuary city for the unborn have not fully answered that question. In recent podcast interviews the president of West Texas for Life and a representative for Project Destiny Lubbock admitted the ordinance is meaningless until Planned Parenthood v Casey (1992) is overturned. That is stated in the ordinance. Even at that, Texas has many laws regarding abortion — even some Senate bills recently passed through its chamber — and state law supersedes municipal ordinances. Is the ordinance truly out of need?

My second question concerns defending the ordinance. Should the ordinance pass, will the city (want to) defend it in court? There are several quotes attributed to Lubbock City Council members and other city officials on how the ordinance is unconstitutional and unenforceable, so if the city is sued over this, why defend it? City leaders made it resoundingly clear how opposed they are to the ordinance. So why waste tax payer dollars on a losing court case?

My third question, why the hyperbole from groups supporting the ordinance? This is an issue that deserves honest debate, not vitriolic rhetoric. It is disturbing to me when I hear those in favor of this ordinance refer to Planned Parenthood as an “abortion factory,” call those who are pro-choice “pro-abortion,” and sanctify themselves in this debate as being pro-life. First things first, “pro-abortion” means someone wants every pregnancy to end in abortion. That oversimplification delivery is dangerous to the conversation. According to recent polling from The University of Texas and The Texas Tribune, 56% of those who identify as pro-life “would permit abortions in cases of rape, incest, and when the life of the mother is threatened; and another 10% would allow them in other cases.” To those using harsh descriptors, are the respondents “pro-abortion?”

At the same time, though, should “pro-life” mean more than birth? If one was truly pro-life, he/she should favor expanding coverage of health insurance, access to care, vaccinations, etc. In the same analysis, should “pro-choice” mean more than this issue, such as choosing to vaccinate, choosing schools, choosing private health options, etc.? Be the labels as they are, both sides of the issue have misleading monikers.

My fourth question concerns the fallout. If I was a strong advocate for the legalization of marijuana or casino gambling, the blue print to get a vote of the citizens is transparent. What will the next sanctuary city be? Will Lubbock become a sanctuary city for recreational or medicinal use of marijuana? A sanctuary city for former Texas Tech Men’s Head Football Coach Mike Leech? Why not a sanctuary city to uphold Article 4 of the U.S. Constitution?

I have other concerns but remember Roe v Wade (1973) is not law of the land when it comes to this issue. Planned Parenthood v Casey’s “undue burden” ruling, however, is. This means that no state can place unreasonable restrictions on a woman seeking an abortion before the fetus is viable. That is why the Supreme Court in the case Whole Women’s Health v Hellerstedt (2016) struck down Texas’ HB 2 and that standard is why the “sanctuary city for the unborn” ordinance is merely symbolic.



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Drew Landry

Drew Landry

Government Prof; Baseball fan; Political junkie; @drewllandry on Twitter