After a citizen’s vote, Lubbock is now the largest so-called “sanctuary city for the unborn” in the country. The city is the first to pass an ordinance like this that actually has a health center that offers abortions.
Proposition A passed with 62% of votes on Saturday. Over 21,000 people voted in favor of the ordinance and 12,860 voted against it. In total, 34,260 Lubbockites voted on the measure, according to the Lubbock County Elections Office.
In mostly conservative and religious Lubbock, churches are likely one of the reasons why the ordinance passed.
Texas Tech University Political Science Professor Tim Nokken explained that, while tax-exempt churches aren’t supposed to support a specific political candidate, they can take a stance on issues. And many did this election.
“That’s probably a very effective and efficient turnout mechanism for an election in May that most people really wouldn’t have paid attention to,” Nokken said before Election Day.
Two of the most-attended churches in Lubbock were advocates for the ordinance. Both Southcrest Baptist Church and Trinity Church still had banners on their buildings Sunday morning encouraging passersby to “vote for life.” Inside, pastors and attendees were in prayer.
“We have a lot of reasons to give thanks,” said Southcrest Baptist Church Senior Pastor David Wilson during one service. “I want to thank you for voting. Thank you for voting. It shows what happens when Christians will vote for the right thing.”
Carl Toti, senior pastor at Trinity Church, told churchgoers that the election result was a “astounding victory.”
“I am so thankful today for the faithfulness of the body of Christ and concerned citizens here in our great city of Lubbock that made history,” Toti said. “We are the largest city with a Planned Parenthood that has just banned abortions in the city fo Lubbock.”
The ordinance allows family members of an aborted fetus to sue the abortion provider. Anyone who helped a woman get the procedure, like the person who drove her to the appointment, could be sued.
There is an exemption for abortions necessary for a woman’s health, though that could still have to be proven in court should a family members pursue civil litigation. There are no exemptions for rape or incest, which account for less than 2% of abortions, according to a 2019 Guttmacher Institute study.
Parts of the ordinance that aim to criminalize abortion are currently unenforceable under federal and state law. Last year, Lubbock’s city council unanimously voted against the ordinance out of concerns of its constitutionality.
Planned Parenthood reopened a clinic in Lubbock last year and says it has no plans to stop offering medicinal abortions.
“Planned Parenthood is a trusted resource for anyone in Lubbock and the surrounding communities for essential healthcare services. We are committed to expanding access to abortion and will provide abortion services when possible in Lubbock,” said Sarah Wheat, chief external affairs officer for Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas. “We want Lubbock residents to know: Our doors are open and we will continue to advocate for our patients, no matter what.”
Inevitably, the ordinance will be challenged in court. Right now, it’s expected to go into effect June 1.
Have a news tip? Email Sarah Self-Walbrick at [email protected] Follow her reporting on Twitter @SarahFromTTUPM.