City of Lubbock responds to state lawmakers, says anti-abortion ordinance is under review

The town of Lubbock has responded to lawmakers in the state of Lubbock who are publicly asking that city council pass a “city sanctuary for the unborn” ordinance.

A response letter, signed by City Manager Jarrett Atkinson and addressed to State Senator Charles Perry and Representatives Dustin Burrows and John Frullo, indicates that the proposed order is under legal review. Atkinson said Mayor Dan Pope forwarded the model order to the city attorney’s office and after review, city council would be notified in an executive session.

Atkinson said the Legal Department is looking to see if it is enforceable. They will also determine whether it is a state or local matter.

Access to abortion has always been a federal and state issue. State lawmakers demanding Lubbock City Council’s vote on the “city of sanctuary for unborn children” may introduce bills to the Texas Legislature when it meets in January.

Perry, Burrows and Frullo sent a draft local ordinance to the mayor and city council of Lubbock several weeks ago with a corresponding letter asking them to consider adopting it. They have since hosted a rally and made the case on local radio. Burrows took to Twitter to challenge the mayor over it.

The original letter sent to the city contains contact information for a law firm in Austin that lawmakers say provide pro-bono legal defense to the city.

The “Unborn Child Sanctuary City” ordinance that state lawmakers are trying to push local government to act on says, “It is illegal for anyone to procure or perform an abortion of any kind. either and at any stage of pregnancy in the city. of Lubbock, Texas. “

The order also says it will be illegal for someone to help and encourage an abortion – the order makes it illegal to take someone to an abortion clinic, to provide money knowing that ‘it will be used for an abortion, or to give instructions regarding self-administered abortions.

It also states that the abortion provider can be sued for emotional distress by a family member of the unborn child, including grandparents, siblings, and half-siblings.

“Right now, the proposed order is under legal review,” Atkinson wrote. “Following the review, the city council will be informed in an executive session of the proposed ordinance, its enforceability and whether it is a state or local matter based on language included. “

“Council members will then have an opportunity to ask staff whether to put this order on a future agenda for consideration,” the letter said.

It takes the recommendation of two members of Lubbock City Council to put an ordinance on the agenda.

The “Unborn Child Sanctuary Cities” ordinance has been passed in 14 cities in Texas, the largest of which is Big Spring. None of these towns had a clinic offering abortions when the orders were passed.

Conversations about abortion access in Lubbock come to the fore because Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas has confirmed it is hiring for a new location in Lubbock. The location has not been announced, but it could open as early as this year.

A spokesperson for Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas wrote to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal this week about the services Planned Parenthood will provide to Lubbock.

Abortion services will not be provided immediately, but Planned Parenthood says medication and surgical abortion services will be provided “at a later date.”

When the health center opens in Lubbock, Planned Parenthood says it will immediately offer affordable health services, including breast and cervical cancer screenings and cervical cancer prevention, birth control options, including IUDs and implants, screening and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, HIV and PrEP and PEP tests to prevent HIV transmission, treatment for urinary tract and vaginal infections, annual blood tests wells and other health services.

“Lubbock and the surrounding communities face rates of sexually transmitted infections and teenage pregnancies that exceed national and national averages, as well as other health issues,” wrote Sarah Wheat of Planned Parenthood. “The Lubbock County 2019 Community Health Needs Assessment noted that the rate of uninsured adults was 11% higher than the national average.”

Mayor Pope was asked about the “city sanctuary for the unborn” ordinance on KFYO’s Chad Hasty show this week.

“I am resolutely pro-life,” Pope said. “This is where I am, I’m very pro-life.”

The mayor went on to talk about other orders he had proposed to him – orders relating to payday lenders, same-sex marriage or orders to strengthen the rights of LGBTQ people. The Pope said he historically said no to these ordinances because he said they were not the role of a mayor and city council.

“This is not the way we need to be,” Pope continued. “We need to do the things we were elected to do: provide police and fire services, make sure our parks are maintained, make sure we take care of our streets. Do the things citizens elect us to do. “

Pope said when he looks at an ordinance this is the lens he looks through and asks, is that outlined in the city charter?

The Pope said the city council had not spoken about the ordinance due to the rules of the open meeting laws, but said they would discuss it together at the first executive session with the legal department ready.

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