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Council takes no action on ordinance declaring sanctuary for the unborn

For the second time in as many meetings, the Jacksboro City Council elected to take no action on an ordinance making the town a sanctuary for the unborn.

Mark Lee Dickson, the Director of Right to Life East Texas, was one of four to speak to the council during a planned presentation on the subject. Dickson, a Longview native, said he reached out to Mayor Alton Morris and City Manager Mike Smith after receiving a notification about the city declining to take action back in December.

Dickson said he helped create an ordinance which has now been passed by nine cities across Texas due to an abortion clinic exploring a move to the East Texas town of Waskom. He said he reached out to Sen. Bryan Hughes who helped him create the eight-page ordinance.

“What this ordinance does effectively is it says abortion is outlawed in the city limit of this city,” Dickson said. “In addition to that, there is two mechanisms, one mechanism is the public enforcement mechanism and the other is the private enforcement mechanism. The public enforcement mechanism, I call ’the future enforcement mechanism,’ but what that mechanism says is that if an abortion happens in the city which the ordinance is enacted then the abortionist can be charged $2,000 per abortion. Also, anyone who aides and abets the abortionist, we are talking about if someone pays for the abortion or someone drives someone to the abortion as long as it is inside the city limits.”

He said this would not be enforceable unless and until Roe V. Wade is overturned, which then could be enforced for every abortion which occurred while the ordinance was in place. He said the private enforcement mechanism would allow for family members to sue the abortionist for the death of the child. The ordinance would have also banned the selling, distribution or provision of emergency contraception.

After the presentations, the council elected to make comments regarding the ordinance.

“First and foremost, I want to be clear that I am not in favor of abortion in any way, shape or form,” Councilman Greg Robinson read from a statement he prepared. “I pray that one day our federal government will have the opportunity to overturn those cases that are the basis for its legality today. That being said, I believe that a symbolic declaration that could not supersede laws put in place by the government is not the avenue to facilitate change.”

He added he believes the proper avenue to enact change is to vote out those in government which do not share the viewpoints of its citizens. Council member Cade Cornish agreed with Robinson.

“Mister Mayor,I personally know all these council members and how they feel about abortion, and none of them feel it is morally or ethically right, I know that and you know that,” Cornish read from a prepared statement. “However, the issue we are discussing tonight is not whether it is morally or ethically correct, the issue is whether it is legal and constitutional. So regardless of anybody’s personal feelings we can all agree that the federal government has determined that it is legal for a woman to obtain an abortion.”

He said cities do not have the authority to pass an ordinance which supersedes federal law.

“The issue was taking up last meeting at your (the mayor’s) request and I felt like the council made it clear that no action was to be taken to approve or disapprove,” Cornish said. “It is my recommendation tonight that no action be taken on this issue and that we just move onto the next agenda item. On behalf of the council, I would like to recommend that in the future, mister mayor, if you should decide to bring up any other sanctuary city issues, please consult us in advance so we can give you our recommendations, personally.”

For the full story, see the Wednesday, Jan. 22, edition of the Jacksboro Herald-Gazette.