Lubbock Moms is a non-partisan parenting resource committed to diversity of thought and civil discourse. The following is intended to be a summary of information for the upcoming special election.
The city of Lubbock is holding a special election on May 1st, 2021. On your ballot, there could be one or two things: an ordinance that declares Lubbock a “sanctuary city for the unborn,” and if you live in the Lubbock-Cooper School District, also the latest school bond proposal (linked in the resources section below).
The ballot title reads: “The code of ordinances of the City of Lubbock shall be amended by enacting an ordinance outlawing abortion within the City of Lubbock, declaring Lubbock a Sanctuary City for the Unborn, making various provision and findings, providing for severability, repealing conflicting ordinances, and establishing an effective date.” The full text of the measure is available here.
A “yes” vote supports amending city ordinances to outlaw abortion within city limits and declaring Lubbock a Sanctuary City for the Unborn.
A “no” vote opposes amending city ordinances to outlaw abortion within city limits and declaring Lubbock a Sanctuary City for the Unborn.
A simple majority is required for the approval of the proposition.
In July 2020, Planned Parenthood announced its plans to reopen a health care clinic in Lubbock. The clinic’s plans included offering breast and cervical cancer screenings, HIV tests, STI screenings, a full range of birth control and contraceptives, treatment for urinary tract and vaginal infections, annual well checks to the community, and medication-based abortion services for women up to 10 weeks pregnant.
In response, Texas State Senator Charles Perry and State Representatives John Frullo and Dustin Burrows authored a letter to Mayor Dan Pope in August 2020, requesting that the City of Lubbock take all necessary actions to prevent Planned Parenthood from opening and requested the city adopt an ordinance similarly adopted by other Texas municipalities. The ordinance would outlaw abortion services in the City of Lubbock. The health clinic opened its doors in Lubbock, saw its first patients on October 26th, and, in April 2021, began offering medical abortion services.
The ordinance can be found here:
In November, the Lubbock City Council voted 0-7 to reject adopting the ordinance.
Why the City Council voted against the initial ordinance
When the Mayor and City Council were considering the initial ordinance, the Council sought outside, independent legal counsel from Olson & Olson, LLP, to advise on the ordinance, which says in part, “We declare Lubbock, Texas, to be a Sanctuary City for the Unborn” and, “Abortion at all times and all stages of pregnancy is declared to be an act of murder.” The law firm identified four major conflicts with the ordinance as proposed:
- The Proposed Ordinance, if enacted, would be void because it is contrary to Texas Law.
- The Texas Constitution prohibits a city from passing an ordinance inconsistent with the laws of the State. Ordinances that conflict with State laws are void.
- The Proposed Ordinance conflicts with State law because it created offenses for some actions permitted or licensed by the State. The Texas Constitution prohibits this.
- The Proposed Ordinance conflicts with State law because the State regulates abortions, including who may perform them, where they may be performed, and when they may be performed. The Proposed Ordinance imposes additional restrictions inconsistent with those State regulations.
Olson & Olson, LLP Memorandum: https://ci.lubbock.tx.us/storage/images/tUiYRx3ZkRggiZNVZmsDTsVWPniMZeFWyD7cMMtw.pdf
Why a special election?
A group of Lubbock citizens, representing a variety of pro-life organizations including faith-based communities, political groups, and women’s health advocates, started the citizen-initiated ballot petition process, a process currently offered under the city charter, to overturn the City Council vote and instead move the ordinance to a public vote in the May 2021 general election. Like many home-rule municipalities in Texas, the Lubbock City Charter’s petition process requires signatures from at least 25% of the number of voters in the last mayoral municipal election. Based on the previous ballot, the petitioners needed approximately 3,651 signatures to have the petition presented for a city-wide vote. The organizations collected over 5,000 signatures, which exceeded the threshold, as the May 2018 election consisted of 14,604 votes.
What happens if the proposition passes?
The proposed ordinance, if passed, would declare abortion at all times and all stages of pregnancy an act of murder and thereby prohibited within the city limits. The ordinance does not provide exceptions for rape, incest, or non-viable pregnancies and defines abortion as a criminal offense unless the mother’s life is in danger. The ordinance forbids any sort of public enforcement carried out by the City or the police department until, and if the notable United States Supreme Court Cases, Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, are overturned.
The ordinance specifically states there is no statute of limitations. This would mean that if these cases, or other federal laws regarding abortion, are overturned, the City could charge doctors or anyone involved with abortions done for any reason with murder, subject to the maximum penalty permitted under Texas law, even many years after the abortion was performed.
Private enforcement of the ordinance would be allowed immediately if the ordinance were to pass. This would allow the unborn child’s mother, father, grandparents, siblings, and half-siblings to sue the doctor or provider of the abortion for compensatory damages, punitive damages, or court costs and attorney’s fees.
What proponents of the ordinance are saying (briefly summarized from talking points of various sources):
Supporters of the proposition say that under current Texas Law (Texas Penal Code § 19.02; Texas Penal Code § 1.07), this ordinance is legal, Constitutional, and written within the confines of Roe v. Wade. In addition, proponents state there is an exception to both the law and the ordinance for when the mother’s life is in danger (West Texas Civil Statutes, Article 4512.1, 1974). This exception also frees any doctors or nurses of any liability under these circumstances.
Former Texas Attorney General Jonathan Mitchell has stated that he will represent the city against any potential lawsuits, pro bono, along with his entire legal team. Supporters argue that Lubbock citizens are in support of the Ordinance and would like to see it passed in their fight for life and protection of unborn babies.
What opponents of the proposition are saying (briefly summarized from talking points of various sources):
Opponents of the proposition are aligned with the original City Council vote and have said that the proposition is unconstitutional, unenforceable, and costly to Lubbock taxpayers. Holding a city election costs the city of Lubbock approximately $160,000. Opponents state that any legal battles incurred if the ordinance were to pass would mean an additional cost to the city.
Some opponents believe this issue is best handled at the state and federal level and support the right for a woman to make healthcare choices privately with a personal doctor. They believe that the effort to reduce abortions would better come from other healthcare-related policies and programs.
What Lubbock Moms is saying:
Lubbock Moms encourages readers to engage in all elections and strives to provide a voice for Moms in the Hub City. The May election in Lubbock County contains the Prop A initiative and the Lubbock Cooper ISD School Bond election if you live within the Lubbock Cooper school district; additional information and resources for the Cooper Bond Election are provided below.
To view your personal ballot and see if you are registered to vote, visit www.votelubbock.org or contact the Lubbock County Elections Office.
Election Day is May 1st.
May 1st sample ballot:
Legal opinions of Olson & Olson:
November 17th public hearing citizen comments:
November 17th public hearing recording:
Sanctuary city for the unborn proposed ordinance:
Lubbock-Cooper School District Bond Proposal information:
Listen to Superintendent Keith Bryant explain the proposal here: