EAST MOUNTAIN, Texas — The town council of East Mountain, Texas has voted to become a “Sanctuary for the Unborn,” disallowing abortion facilities from opening within its borders.
“We are thankful for the support of the men and women of East Mountain Baptist Church and those from throughout the city who wanted to see this ordinance passed. This could not have happened without their support,” wrote Mark Lee Dickson of Right to Life East Texas on July 20.
East Mountain is a small town approximately 20 minutes outside of Longview. It has a population of 757 residents and does not have an abortion facility within its jurisdiction. The ordinance rather proactively prevents one from opening, should an organization ever seek to do so.
Three council members voted in favor of passing the ordinance and two abstained. East Mountain now becomes the 14th municipality to declare itself a “Sanctuary for the Unborn.”
As previously reported, city council members in Waskom, Texas voted unanimously last June to disallow any abortion facilities from doing business within its borders, declaring such entities to be “criminal organizations.”
The approved ordinance contained 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.
The cities of Omaha and Naples, Texas soon passed similar ordinances, but with the notation that those who illegally commit abortions in violation of the new law will not be punished “unless and until” Roe v. Wade is overturned, and even then, no mother who obtains or performs an abortion may face criminal or civil penalties.
However, council members in Mineral Wells, Texas voted against a measure to outlaw abortion within its municipality, stating that they feared the cost of a potential lawsuit.
Mayor Christopher Perricone backed the resolution, but his efforts were thwarted by the city attorney, who counseled the council not to pass the ordinance because it conflicts with federal precedent.
“If we’re going to take the stance that we believe that life begins at conception, that our duty as elected officials is to protect that life, then I feel that we need to take the strongest stand possible,” Perricone told Fox4 News.
Other towns that have passed the ordinance include Rusk, Joaquin, Gilmer, Gary, Westbrook, Whiteface, Big Spring and Tenaha.
As previously reported, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed suit in February to challenge the ordinances due to a lack of clarity as to whether the ban would also affect “non-provider” abortion advocates. The text of the statutes specifically named Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, The Afiya Center, Jane’s Due Process, The Lilith Fund for Reproductive Equity and the Texas Equal Access Fund.
“Organizations that perform abortions and assist others in obtaining abortions are declared to be criminal organizations,” the ordinance states. “It shall be unlawful for a criminal organization … to operate within the city. … This includes, but is not limited to, offering services of any type … renting office space or purchasing real property … [or] establishing a physical presence of any sort.”
“Lilith Fund does not know whether the ordinances will subject them to prosecution for their advocacy work, such as their billboard and social media campaigns,” the lawsuit stated. “TEA Fund is likewise unclear as to whether its current work and planned work will subject it to liability.”
According to The Texan, after the towns removed the names of the organizations from their ordinance but left the prohibition in itself intact, the ACLU dropped its legal challenge.
“May all of our churches and all of the residents of our cities do their part and call upon their leaders to pass good laws that protect the citizens and culture of their communities!” Dickson said. “As it says in Amos 5:15, may we all ‘Hate evil, and love good, and establish justice in the city gate.'”
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