WASKOM, Texas — City council members in Waskom, Texas voted unanimously on Tuesday night to declare itself a “sanctuary city for the unborn” and to disallow any abortion facilities from doing business within its borders, declaring such entities to be “criminal organizations.” The approved ordinance contains the exceptions of rape, incest and life of the mother — language not included in the original proposal, but later inserted by an attorney reportedly out of the belief that doing so would withstand a challenge before the U.S. Supreme Court.
All five council members raised their hands when asked for a show of those in favor of Resolution 335 and Ordinance 336. Those in attendance clapped and cheered.
“Now, therefore, be it resolved by the city council as the governing body of the city of Waskom, Texas, that we declare that innocent human life, including fetal life at every stage of gestation, must always be protected and that society must protect those who cannot protect themselves,” the resolution reads.
“Be it further resolved by the City Council that it declare its opposition to any compromise by the Texas legislature on abortion.”
According to reports, as Waskom is a border city on the Texas/Louisiana state line, concerns had been raised that an abortion organization might try to open a facility in Waskom — a small city of less than 2,200 — now that Democratic Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has signed a bill banning abortion in the state after a heartbeat is detected.
Right to Life East Texas, which was a part of the effort, joined with First Baptist Church of Waskom for a rally on Sunday regarding the preemptive measures.
Mark Dickson, pastor of SovereignLOVE Church and co-director of Right to Life East Texas, told Christian News Network that no other city has passed an ordinance banning abortion within its jurisdiction.
“To my knowledge, this has not been done anywhere else,” he said.
As previously reported, Roswell, New Mexico passed a resolution in March declaring that human life is “precious to God” and “must always be protected.” But, as Dickson noted, resolutions are simply statements of belief and do not carry the force of law. He felt it was important that Waskom also put an ordinance on the books declaring that abortion facilities will not be allowed to do business in the city.
“The Supreme Court’s rulings and opinions in Roe v. Wade … [and similar] rulings or opinions from the Supreme Court that purport to establish or enforce a ‘constitutional right’ to murder a pre-born child, are declared to be unconstitutional usurpations of judicial power, which violate both the Tenth Amendment the Republican Form of Government Clause, and are null and void in the city of Waskom,” it reads.
“Abortion at all times and at all stage of pregnancy is declared to be an act of murder with malice aforethought,” the ordinance states, and “[o]rganizations that perform abortions and assist others in obtaining abortions are declared to be criminal organizations.” These entities are prohibited from renting space, purchasing property or offering services of any kind in the city.
However, the law also provides three exceptions, or “affirmative defenses” to performing an abortion: “a life-threatening physical condition aggravated by, caused by, or arising from a pregnancy,” “a pregnancy caused by an act of rape … that was reported to law enforcement” and incest.
Women who illegally obtain abortions or commit self-abortions will not be penalized under the statute.
Dickson said that the original draft did not include exceptions, but an attorney added them out of the belief that “it was the best course of action for a case that goes before the [Supreme] Court.” Dickson advised that he opposes exceptions, as do the others involved with the ordinance, and acknowledged that he had conflicted feelings about the final text as passed by the council.
He said that he is heartened, however, that Waskom officials were willing to be pioneers in proactively prohibiting abortion facilities from operating within city limits. Dickson, who ministers outside of abortion facilities in Texas three days a week, stated that cities across the country need to take a stand.
“People are calling from across Texas, saying, ‘We want this in our city,'” he outlined, stating that word of the resolution and ordinance has generated a “ripple effect” with pastors, mayors and general citizens.
“We have been trusting the people that we elect [at the state and federal level] too much,” Dickson said. “We need to, on a local level, start holding our officials accountable. And we need to start fighting this battle proactively instead of retroactively.”
“This should be a message to every single city: You need to rise up. … Do something.”