An initiative and referendum process to outlaw abortion has begun in San Angelo, Texas. The ordinance and the necessary paperwork were filed with the City of San Angelo (population 101,612) on Thursday, November 25, 2021.
If the initiating committee is able to obtain 1,512 signatures from registered voters in the City of San Angelo and those signatures are verified, the Mayor and City Council will be forced to hold a hearing on the ordinance that has been filed at city hall. At that hearing’s conclusion, the Mayor and City Council will be forced to vote for or against the proposed ordinance. If the city council votes against the ordinance, the initiating committee could place the ordinance on the ballot for voters to decide in May of 2022.
The proposed San Angelo Ordinance Outlawing Abortion states, “It shall be unlawful for any person to procure or perform an abortion of any type and at any stage of pregnancy in the city of San Angelo, Texas” and “It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly aid or abet an abortion that occurs in the city of San Angelo, Texas.” Abortion is defined by the ordinance as “the act of using or prescribing an instrument, a drug, a medicine, or any other substance, device, or means with the intent to cause the death of an unborn child of a woman known to be pregnant”
Besides outlawing abortion, the San Angelo Ordinance declares abortion-inducing drugs to be contraband stating “It shall be unlawful for any person to possess or distribute abortion-inducing drugs in the city of San Angelo, Texas.” The Ordinance defines “abortion-inducing drugs” as “mifepristone, misoprostol, and any drug or medication that is used to terminate the life of an unborn child.” The Ordinance is clear that the term “abortion-inducing drugs” does not include birth-control devices or oral contraceptives.
The effort to see abortion outlawed in San Angelo started well over a year ago and has only come to this point because of an unwillingness of the Mayor and City Council to pass the ordinance outlawing abortion. The movement came to a head on Tuesday, October 5, 2021 when the Mayor and City Council voted 5-2 to pass a non-binding proclamation “supporting the Right to Life and supporting the Texas Heartbeat Act” instead of an enforceable ordinance outlawing abortion within their city limits. The two council members who voted against the proclamation were Councilman Lane Carter and Councilman Larry Miller. These two council members voted the way that they did because they knew that the citizens of San Angelo were wanting an enforceable ordinance outlawing abortion, not wanting a resolution or a proclamation that would not be enforceable.
On Tuesday, November 2, 2021 a proclamation in support of “The Right to Life and the Texas Heartbeat Bill” was released, minus any mention of the Texas Heartbeat Act. Some have speculated that the reason why there is no mention of the Texas Heartbeat Act in the proclamation is because the Texas Heartbeat Act supports cities passing ordinances outlawing abortion. Section 17.206 of the Texas Heartbeat Act states, “This subchapter may not be construed to . . . restrict a political subdivision from regulating or prohibiting abortion in a manner that is at least as stringent as the laws of this state.”
Out of the 42 cities throughout the United States which have outlawed abortion, 41 cities have passed the ordinance by a vote of their Mayor and City Council with the City of Lubbock (population 264,000) being the only city where their residents had to get the job done themselves.
The similarities between what happened in Lubbock and what is currently happening in San Angelo are noteworthy. In both instances, the Mayor and City Council have rejected what their constituents requested. Pastor Ryan Buck with Immanuel Baptist Church in San Angelo shared, “We did not want to go the route of a city-wide election, but since our mayor and city council would not listen to us we were left with no other choice.”
The initiating committee is expecting to be able to collect the 1,512 signatures within weeks.
Note: The photo has been used with permission.
Mark Lee Dickson lives in Texas and serves as a Director with Right to Life of East Texas and the founder of the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn Initiative.