Texas town declares itself a 'sanctuary for the unborn'

by Ellen Wulfhorst | @EJWulfhorst | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Friday, 14 June 2019 19:59 GMT

An anti-abortion protester with tape over her mouth demonstrates outside the U.S. Supreme Court before the court handed a victory to abortion rights advocates, striking down a Texas law imposing strict regulations on abortion doctors and facilities in Washington June 27, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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Nine U.S. states recently passed strict regulations on abortion access, including nearby Louisiana and Mississippi, where lawmakers have voted to ban abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected

By Ellen Wulfhorst

NEW YORK, June 14 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A town in eastern Texas has declared itself a "sanctuary city for the unborn", aiming to fend off any demand for abortion services from women in nearby states, officials said.

The all-male Waskom City Council unanimously approved this week a resolution declaring that a 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling protecting women's right to abortion was "null and void" in the town of about 2,000 people.

The council's resolution or ordinance was designed to protect Waskom from having an abortion clinic locate there, said a local anti-abortion leader. It currently does not have a clinic providing abortion services.

Nine U.S. states recently passed strict regulations on abortion access, including nearby Louisiana and Mississippi, where lawmakers have voted to ban abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected.

The multi-state actions are seen as part of an effort to have the nation's high court reconsider its 1973 Roe v. Wade holding that a woman has a constitutional right to abortion.

"We decided to take things into our own hands," said Mark Lee Dickson, head of Right to Life of East Texas, on local television from Waskom.

"We have got to do something to protect our cites and to protect the unborn child."

Waskom, just west of the Louisiana border, is the first town in Texas to pass such an ordinance, according to local media. It was not immediately clear if other U.S. municipalities have done so.

Waskom's mayor and city attorney warned the council ahead of its vote that the ordinance would be unconstitutional and would face a costly legal challenge.

The Waskom ordinance is "a dangerous attempt" to undermine Roe v. Wade, said Aimee Arrambide, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, a reproductive rights group.

"We will not be intimidated. At a time when the fundamental freedoms under Roe are under attack, we recommit ourselves to expanding and protecting these rights for all Texans," she said in a statement. "We want Texans to know that abortion remains legal in all 50 states." (Reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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