Local Governments Creating Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn

Aug 31, 2023

GOLIAD, TX – Goliad County in Southeast Texas joined a growing movement to protect unborn babies last Monday by enacting a “Sanctuary County for the Unborn” ordinance becoming the 71st local government in the nation to adopt such a measure. These local protections have birthed out of the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn (SCFTU) initiative created to keep abortion out of communities, especially in communities close to the U.S.-Mexico border often targeted by the abortion industry. 

While the state of Texas has a near-total abortion ban from the point of conception, this local ordinance adds additional protections by prohibiting both abortion-inducing drugs as well as trafficking women and girls to another state for an elective abortion within or through the unincorporated area of the county.

Goliad County Commissioners unanimously voted 4-0 to impede the aiding and abetting of abortion in the county by outlawing possession of abortion drugs, the transporting and disposing of aborted baby body parts, and also prohibits the use of the county’s highways and roads for abortion trafficking if such activity “begins, ends, or passes through the unincorporated area of Goliad County.” The ordinance also creates its own enforcement mechanism giving county citizens a private right of action to bring a civil suit against violators.

Currently, 67 cities and now four counties across the United States have passed similar ordinances. 

The SCFTU initiative began in Texas in 2019 when abortion was legal nationwide. Due to the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, abortion was legal through the first and second trimester of pregnancy, but local governments could still do something to save unborn lives. While local governments couldn’t defy Roe and outright ban all abortion, they could enact other measures that essentially resulted in the same effect. For example, in June 2019, the City of Waskom, Texas (pop. 2,189) unanimously passed the first SCFTU ordinance declaring abortion clinics as “criminal organizations” aimed at preventing abortion providers from moving into town from other areas. According to the SCFTU website, this type of ordinance did not ban abortion directly, but rather prevented abortion by keeping abortion clinics away. 

Soon other towns in Texas and neighboring states began passing resolutions and ordinances within the constrained legal framework under Roe to keep abortion out of their towns. By May 2022, 50 local governments across the country had declared themselves sanctuaries classifying abortion as murder and prohibiting abortion businesses from setting up in their jurisdiction. Since Roe was overturned in June 2022, the number has grown because municipalities can now use ordinances to outright ban abortion in states with no state abortion laws or they can expand into greater protections in states that do have bans. 

The sanctuary cities are currently in Texas, Louisiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Ohio, and New Mexico, with the four sanctuary counties in Texas and New Mexico. While most municipalities with these ordinances range in population from several hundred people to several thousand people, the largest sanctuary city is Lubbock, Texas with a population of 264,000. Conversely, the smallest city to pass this measure is Impact, Texas with a population of 20.

More cities in Nevada and Virginia are considering enacting these measures, while dozens of other cities and counties across Arkansas and North Carolina have passed non-binding resolutions designating their municipalities as pro-life. 

The SCFTU initiative states they have a process for municipalities wanting to become a sanctuary for the unborn and are “willing to come alongside” and help since ordinances need to be “tailored to specifically fit” each area. The draft ordinance language can be found here

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “The evidence is clear that many Americans are pro-life. Ever since the disastrous Roe v. Wade decision was reversed, the power to protect life has returned to the people. Today, every person who embraces the sanctity of human life must get involved to advance laws and protect the unborn. Abortion has wrought nothing but carnage and death for more than 63 million children and harms women physically and psychologically. Abortion destroys human life and degrades women. Life is sacred.”

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