Five men this week declared a small town in East Texas a “sanctuary city for the unborn,” commandeering the language of the movement for immigrant rights to counter the reproductive freedom of women.
There are no abortion clinics in Waskom, a city of about 2,200, which lies on the border with Louisiana. But the all-male, all-white City Council decided unanimously Tuesday that prohibiting abortion was necessary as a preventive measure.
The municipal prohibition, which plainly contradicts the judgments of the U.S. Supreme Court, joins statewide bans on abortion sweeping the country in the wake of the solidification of a conservative majority on the nation’s top court. In Texas, abortion already is banned after 20 weeks. Now, a bill awaiting the governor’s signature would require doctors in the state to treat “a child born alive after an abortion,” which happens rarely.
Supporters of the city ordinance say it is the first of its kind in the Lone Star State.
The legislation was modeled on a measure embraced 7 to 1 in March by the City Council of Roswell, New Mexico, which is best known as the site of a purported UFO crash in 1947. Roswell’s move to declare its support for “fetal life” was accompanied by a measure characterizing it as a “Second Amendment Sanctuary City,” in opposition to legislation advanced by the state legislature that expands background checks for private gun sales.
Waskom residents said they were unconcerned by the prospect of a costly legal fight over the abortion measure because, according to local media, “they say God will take care of them.”
Before the Tuesday vote, Waskom’s mayor told council members that the city lacked the resources to engage in a lengthy legal battle over the legislation, the instigation of which is the professed aim of the ordinance.
“Most likely we will wind up getting sued if this is passed,” the mayor, Jesse Moore, said. “It could go to the Supreme Court.”
That prospect would present fiscal challenges for the city, lawmakers acknowledged.
“We don’t have the possible millions of dollars that it would take to take it to that level,” said alderman Jimmy Dale Moore, who nevertheless voted for the ordinance. “We can’t pay those kind of attorney’s fees. The city don’t have the money.”
Pointing to a member of the crowd gathered to watch the proceedings, the mayor advised, “Save your nickels and pennies,” eliciting chuckles from the public.
“We may need them,” he said.
Maybe you could ask the people of Farmers Branch about their experiences paying for round after round of costly litigation after passing a blatantly illegal ordinance. But, as I say to my own kids, some lessons just need to be learned the hard way. Think Progress has more.