Voters in Lubbock, Texas have backed an ordinance that outlaws abortions within the city, which is likely to be challenged by a lawsuit over what opponents say is an unconstitutional ban on the procedure, The Texas Tribune reported over the weekend.
The unofficial vote, 62% for and 38% against, declares Lubbock as a “sanctuary city for the unborn” and also permits family members of someone who has an abortion to sue the provider and anyone who assists in the abortion, including, for example, driving someone to the clinic to have the procedure.
However, under the measure, an act does not qualify as an abortion if it is carried out to save the life of the mother, remove a fetus whose death was the result of a miscarriage or remove an ectopic pregnancy, according to EverythingLubbock.com
But there is not an exception for women pregnant due to rape or incest.
It is also unclear when the measure will go into effect.
The vote comes less than a year after Planned Parenthood opened a clinic in Lubbock and months after the City Council rejected the ordinance for conflicting with state law and Supreme Court rulings, saying it could result in a costly court fight, the Tribune reported.
About two dozen cities have passed similar measures, but Lubbock, with some 250,000 residents, is by far the largest so far and the only one that has an abortion provider.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, which has sued seven other towns in Texas that passed similar measures, hinted at a lawsuit in a statement.
The ACLU “has a long history of challenging unconstitutional abortion bans and will continue to fight to protect the fundamental rights of the people of Lubbock,” said Drucilla Tigner, a policy and advocacy strategist with the organization.
A Planned Parenthood spokesperson said “we are committed to expanding access to abortion and will provide abortion services when possible in Lubbock.”
Opponents of the measure warned that people wanting to end their pregnancies, sometimes due to traumatic circumstances such as rape or incest, will now have limited options.
Conservative state lawmakers and other anti-abortion activists congratulated Lubbock voters for their decision.
“Today is a victory for life and proof that the silent majority will still stand up for its Christian conservative values,” Republican state Rep. Dustin Burrows said in a statement.
Mark Lee Dickson, an East Texas pastor who helped get the ordinance passed, said he was “grateful that the voters of Lubbock voted so overwhelmingly to outlaw abortion.”
Richard D. Rosen, a constitutional law professor at Texas Tech University, expected that any legal fight would ultimately fail to uphold the ordiance, but insisted it could make “abortion providers … expend money for attorneys fees” and be a very time-consuming process.