Since abortion became outlawed from the point of conception in the State of Texas, abortion clinics that were once located in the Lone Star State have crossed the border to perform abortions on Texas residents in New Mexico. This has led some cities and counties across Texas to pass ordinances outlawing abortion trafficking within their jurisdiction.
On October 23, 2023, the Texas Commissioners’ Court of Lubbock County voted unanimously to pass an ordinance outlawing abortion trafficking in the unincorporated area of their county. The vote made the county the sixth political subdivision in the state to pass an ordinance outlawing abortion trafficking, following the City of Odessa, the City of Little River-Academy, Mitchell County, Goliad County, and Cochran County. The Lubbock Sanctuary County for the Unborn ordinance states, “it shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly transport any individual for the purpose of providing or obtaining an elective abortion, regardless of where the elective abortion will occur. This section shall apply only if the transportation of such individual begins, ends, or passes through the unincorporated area of Lubbock County.”
Like the previous abortion trafficking ordinances, the Lubbock County Ordinance does not interfere with the right to travel. The Lubbock County Ordinance does not prohibit pregnant mothers from going to New Mexico for abortions, but only prohibits those who are using the roads within the county to traffic pregnant mothers across state lines for the purpose of an abortion. The abortion trafficking provision of the Lubbock County Ordinance tracks the current wording of the Mann Act of 1910 almost verbatim, with the exception that the ordinance embraces a broader definition of the prohibited purposes. The prohibited purposes in the Lubbock County Ordinance includes abortion trafficking. Abortion trafficking would have fallen within the erstwhile “immoral purpose” definition of the Mann Act. Since all previous iterations of the Mann Act were upheld as constitutional, it is believed that the abortion trafficking provision should survive any court challenge regarding its constitutionality.
Also, like the previous abortion trafficking ordinances, the Lubbock County Ordinance does not require any type of enforcement on behalf of Lubbock County. This means there will never be any traffic stops or arrests as a result of the passage of this ordinance. Instead, the ordinance is enforced by private citizens being allowed to sue anyone who violates the ordinance. This type of enforcement mechanism is the same private enforcement mechanism found in the City of Lubbock’s Sanctuary City for the Unborn Ordinance and the Texas Heartbeat Act. It is believed that, since this mechanism worked in shutting down abortions from the point of conception in the City of Lubbock and worked in shutting down abortions performed on children with detectable heartbeats throughout the State of Texas, it will also work in prohibiting abortion trafficking in cities and counties throughout the state.
In August 2023, twenty Texas Senators and Representatives signed a letter encouraging cities and counties across Texas to consider these types of “abortion trafficking” ordinances. The letter stated:
While it is true that abortion is outlawed in the entire State of Texas, from the point of conception, our work is far from over. Right now, throughout the State of Texas, women are being trafficked across our borders by abortion traffickers funded by abortion trafficking organizations still operating in our state. As a result, these women are being abused and traumatized by abortion across our Texas-New Mexico border and sent back to Texas for our cities and counties to deal with the aftermath taking place in our homes, our schools, our churches, and our hospitals.
The Sanctuary for the Unborn ordinances seek to protect these institutions by putting safeguards in place to protect men, women, and their children for years to come. These ordinances, which seek to close as many loopholes as possible, do not penalize women who seek or undergo abortions, but places the penalty on the party who most deserves it — the abortionist and the industry profiting from the unjust procedure, including abortion traffickers.
While we intend to do our part to keep our strong pro-life protections for mothers and their unborn children, we believe it will help for cities and counties to do their part as well. As state elected officials who are trusted by Pro-Life Texans to stand for life at every available opportunity, we believe this is a viable and crucial opportunity for local governments to protect their most vulnerable members. We look forward to partnering with you as we seek to defend innocent human life at every level of government.
Texas Senators and Representatives who signed the letter included: Senators Charles Perry (SD 28), Mayes Middleton (SD 11), Bryan Hughes (SD 1), Tan Parker (SD 12), Donna Campbell (SD 25), Lois W. Kolkhorst (SD 18), and Representatives Dustin Burrows (HD 83), Carl Tepper (HD 84), Jeff Leach (HD 67), Jared Patterson (HD 106), Briscoe Cain (HD 128), Greg Bonnen (HD 24), James Frank (HD 69), Cole Heffner (HD 5), Stephanie Klick (HD 91), Ellen Troxclair (HD 19), Geanie W. Morrison (HD 30), Mark Dorazio (HD 122), Matt Schaefer (HD 6), and Carrie Isaac (HD 73).
Texas legislators were not the only state legislators in support of the measures. In October 2023, seven New Mexico Senators and Representatives signed a letter encouraging cities and counties across Texas to consider these types of “abortion trafficking” ordinances as well. The letter they signed stated:
Since September 2021, when the Texas Heartbeat Act went into effect, we have seen over 1,000 abortions per month come into the State of New Mexico from the State of Texas. Not only has this influx of abortions caused the deaths of many innocent Texans, but it is putting an extreme burden on our limited healthcare system in New Mexico. This may lead to a significant health crisis in the State of New Mexico if reasonable measures are not passed on abortion trafficking within the State of Texas, as our health system cannot handle the significant number of emergencies that are the result of the influx of approximately 11,000 Texas abortions per year. As state legislators we stand concerned about the impact this has on the health, safety, and enjoyment of life of the residents of New Mexico and those who are visiting from the state of Texas.
While the ordinances passed in our cities and counties in New Mexico are different from the ordinances which have been passed in cities and counties throughout Texas, our communities are seeking to do as much as they possibly can to protect our communities under the leadership and the laws of the State of New Mexico. We are doing this despite facing overwhelming opposition from state leaders who are in lock-step with the most pro-abortion administration in the history of America. Of course, we cannot fight the Biden Administration’s radical abortion agenda alone.
This is why it is a great encouragement to us that allies across the New Mexico-Texas border are considering proposals which would prohibit abortion trafficking into New Mexico. While we will never stop fighting for unborn life on our turf in New Mexico, the victory is made more achievable when cities and counties in Texas are doing their part to defend innocent human life as well.
New Mexico Senators and Representatives who signed the letter included: Senators David Gallegos (SD 41), Pat Woods (SD 7), Greg Schmedes, M.D. (SD 19), and Representatives John Block (HD 51), Andrea Reeb (HD 64), James Townsend HD 54), and Jennifer Jones (HD 32).
Counties of special interest to the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn Initiative are counties which are on or close to the the Texas-New Mexico border, including: Loving County, Winkler County, Andrews County, Gaines County, Yoakum County, Bailey County, Parmer County, Deaf Smith County, Oldham County, Hartley County, and Dallam County. The idea behind the passage of the ordinances near the border is to create a wall of ordinances which will serve as a deterrent to abortion facilities that seek to set-up shop across the Texas-New Mexico border. It is also believed that if these counties were to all pass abortion trafficking ordinances it would be enough to completely dry up New Mexico abortion businesses who are dependent upon Texas residents getting abortions.
Some of the most crucial areas along the Texas-New Mexico border include Andrews County and Gaines County – near Hobbs, New Mexico, and Bailey County and Parmer County – near Clovis, New Mexico. The New Mexico cities of Hobbs and Clovis were both targeted by abortion industries attempting to make a profit on Texas residents seeking abortion right across the Texas-New Mexico border.
In an article published on October 28, 2022, Whole Woman’s Health founder and CEO Amy Hagstrom Miller told Reuters, “Anti-abortion forces, now that they don’t need to pay attention to Texas and Mississippi and Alabama and Louisiana anymore, they’re starting to focus on what I call the ‘new frontier.” While Miller told Reuters she was considering opening a facility in Clovis or Hobbs, she also expressed how the possibility of “sanctuary” ordinances were causing her to pause about relocating to Eastern New Mexico. Miller shared, “In this post-Dobbs era, where anti-abortion folks are emboldened, I want to be sure we’re in a place where our patients can be safe, where our doctors and our staff can be safe.” After both the Cities of Hobbs and Clovis introduced ordinances, Whole Woman’s Health opted to abandon their pursuit of Southeast New Mexico and make Albuquerque, New Mexico, their new home.
The New Mexico Attorney General is currently challenging the ordinances passed in four of six political subdivisions, with oral arguments expected to be heard by the New Mexico Supreme Court in mid-December. This quickly approaching hearing and eventual ruling of New Mexico’s Supreme Court has made the introduction of ordinances prohibiting abortion trafficking in counties in Texas, along the New Mexico border, all the more urgent, especially since an unfavorable ruling in New Mexico will likely prompt the establishment of abortion facilities just miles from the Texas border.
While some elected officials along the border are skeptical of passing such ordinances, believing they will not make a difference, abortionist Alan Braid with Alamo Women’s Reproductive Services in Albuquerque, is seeing the impact abortion trafficking bans can have on the New Mexico abortion industry. Previously located in San Antonio, Texas, Braid moved to New Mexico after the Dobbs decision on June 24, 2022. Braid admitted to the Texas Standard that 85 percent of his business came from Texas, with some even driving from Houston. Braid said that because of the new abortion trafficking bans, clinics in New Mexico are “having higher no-show rates because people are afraid to drive through Lubbock and Amarillo.”
While an abortion trafficking ordinance has only been discussed and has yet to be passed in the City of Amarillo, the abortion industry is realizing just how damaging the ordinances can be to their money-making regime.
Rachel O’Leary Carmona, Executive Director of Women’s March, wrote in an email: “I am writing to you personally today about the urgent situation in West Texas. Mark Lee Dickson and his group are aggressively pushing the so-called “Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn” initiative, which in addition to acting as a city-level abortion ban restricts highway travel for anyone seeking an abortion. They’ve already succeeded in Lubbock County and are now targeting Amarillo.” Carmona continued, “These extremists are on the brink of gaining control over key West Texas and Panhandle highways, which could effectively cut off the majority of Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisianaian residents from accessing safe abortions in New Mexico or Colorado.”
Carmona ended her plea by stating, “We’ve been tirelessly organizing in Amarillo and we know that Texas is worth contesting for – so many more people are with us than the electoral maps suggest . . . Amarillo is not just a place people live in, it’s a major highway that connects many states to lifesaving medical care.” Women’s March is encouraging citizens across America to email the Amarillo City Council, to voice their opposition to the ordinance.
While it is uncertain how soon the City of Amarillo will consider an ordinance prohibiting abortion trafficking or just how many counties along the Texas-New Mexico border will join in to help build a “Wall of Ordinances,” one thing is certain: The State of Texas still has a role to play in the fight to end abortion – in New Mexico, Kansas, Colorado, and every state in the United States of America.
Those who are interested in seeing their city or county pass an ordinance going as far as they can to end abortion are encouraged to sign the online petition at the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn Initiative website.
Here is a link to contact the Mayor and City Council of Amarillo: https://www.amarillo.gov/city-hall/city-government/mayor-council-members
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