By Mary Szoch
This past week, Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas announced it was dropping its appeal of a U.S. district court’s dismissal of its case against the citizens of Lubbock, Texas. This decision makes Lubbock the first city since Roe v. Wade to uphold legislation completely protecting the unborn.
This fight for life began last year on May 5, when the people of Lubbock passed a city ordinance making it a sanctuary city for the unborn. One month later, after a federal district judge dismissed Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit citing lack of standing, Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas agreed to stop performing abortions within the city limits.
Planned Parenthood appealed the decision. However, on Friday, they voluntarily withdrew their appeal, stating, “While we have determined not to move forward with this appeal, this is not the end of our fight in Lubbock, and we continue to consider all legal options to challenge this unconstitutional local ban.”
Jim Baxa, president of West Texas for Life — the main driver of the Lubbock sanctuary city bill — commented on “Washington Watch,” “It was very exciting to see… [Planned Parenthood] stepped back and they said, ‘We’re not going to take a loss that’s going to hurt financially’ … They can save the lawyer fees, and they can save the embarrassment of losing and setting a precedent.”
Lubbock’s ordinance declares abortion (except in the case of saving the life of the mother) “an act of murder.” It outlaws procuring or performing an abortion and aiding or abetting an abortion. Ways of aiding and abetting an abortion include providing transportation, giving instructions over the phone, providing money, and coercing a mother into having an abortion.
The life-saving Texas Heartbeat Act utilizes the same enforcement mechanism as this law, allowing private citizens to sue the abortion industry. Because the city is not party to civil lawsuits triggered by the ordinance, Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion businesses do not have standing to sue the city over this ordinance. As Baxa said, “They [the abortion industry] have nowhere else to go unless they try to reopen this case, which they could do at some point. But I don’t think they’ll try to reopen it…They’re upset that we’ve won, and that abortion is banned in Lubbock, Texas, and the Planned Parenthood there is no longer killing babies.”
As the first law in effect since Roe that completely protects life in the womb from the moment of conception, this is a huge win for the unborn. Alongside the Texas Heartbeat Act, this law is saving lives. And neither law would have come to pass without the faith of a pastor and the help of many other pastors.
In 2019, when an abortion clinic was set to open on the outskirts of Waskom, Texas, pastor Mark Lee Dickson teamed up with State Senator Bryan Hughes and attorney Jonathan Mitchell to construct a sanctuary city bill that would prevent the killing of unborn babies within the city limits. The city council passed the bill, and although no abortion clinics existed within the town limits, this home to 2,000 became a safe haven for children in the womb. At least 38 other jurisdictions followed Waskom’s lead, which also helped inspire the Texas Heartbeat legislation.
One such jurisdiction was Lubbock, Texas — a city of over 250,000 people. Unlike other municipalities that passed sanctuary legislation, Lubbock had an active abortion clinic. Still, the faith of pro-life Christians did not waiver. The sanctuary city proposal was brought before the city council, which unanimously rejected it, stating that Roe v. Wade was the law of the land and this law could not go into effect. But nothing is impossible for God.
Dickson, Baxa, Texas State Senator Charles Perry (a deacon at Southcrest Baptist Church), and other ardent pro-lifers led the charge requesting placing the sanctuary city ordinance on the ballot. Pro-life leaders argued that the people of Lubbock should have the option to vote on ordaining Lubbock a sanctuary city for the unborn, “Because we fear God, view the intentional shedding of the blood of unborn children to be an inconceivably wicked action, and we believe that we all have a responsibility to protect the lives of the smallest and most vulnerable humans among us.”
When asked about the importance of pastors in driving sanctuary cities for the unborn, Baxa responded, “The pastors were everything. You know, I’m just one activist trying to kind of take a step up in leadership role in this, but the pastors did it.”
The ballot initiative passed by an overwhelming 62 percent majority, making Lubbock abortion-free from the moment of conception. As of January 21, Lubbock is the first city since Roe to uphold a law completely protecting life beginning with conception.
Sixty-two percent of voters in Lubbock voted to defend life. That same body of voters previously elected legislators who unanimously opposed making Lubbock a sanctuary city for the unborn. Something happened in between those two votes. As Baxa said, “The pastors made sure that there was a sign outside of every church in the city. Two hundred different churches had a sign up front saying Vote for Life. Vote for the Unborn… And it was an amazing sight to see.”
Lives are being saved in Texas. Baxa commended the pastors who stood up and said, “We’re going to do what’s right. We’re going to love these babies. We’re going to love our neighbor. And we’re going to lead our flock.” He has a directive for others who would like to join the sanctuary city movement, “I point them to the website SanctuaryCitiesForTheUnborn.com, and I point them to their city council and to the pastors in the community. Because if the pastors don’t lead this, we’ll never win. It’s always got to be pastor-driven.”