Texans voted overwhelmingly to make Lubbock a "Sanctuary City for the Unborn" by outlawing abortion.
The ordinance makes Lubbock, which has a 2019 population of 229,943, the largest city to ban abortion in the country. Before Lubbock, the largest city to pass a similar ordinance was Big Spring, Texas, which has an estimated population of 28,187, KWKT-TV reported.
There are 22 smaller cities in Texas and two in Nebraska that passed "Sanctuary City for the Unborn" legislation. Lubbock is the only town with an active abortion clinic to pass the ordinance, according to KLBK-TV.
The Lubbock County Elections Office released the voting results for the Sanctuary City for the Unborn ordinance, which easily passed by a 62.46% to 37.54% margin, according to the Dallas Morning News.
The ordinance states, "Abortion at all times and at all stages of pregnancy is declared to be an act of murder."
"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 Lubbock, Texas," the ordinance reads. "It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly aid or abet an abortion that occurs in the City of Lubbock, Texas."
There are no exceptions for women becoming pregnant as a result of rape or incest. Procedures performed to save the life of the mother, remove a fetus whose death was the result of a miscarriage, or remove an ectopic pregnancy are permitted.
The ordinance would not be enforced by the government, but rather enables private citizens to file lawsuits.
The pro-life measure was introduced after Planned Parenthood opened a clinic in Lubbock in October that began offering abortion services on April 15, and "months after the City Council rejected the ordinance on legal grounds and warned it could tee up a costly court fight," according to the Texas Tribune.
Supporters of a measure to outlaw abortion in the city limits of Lubbock were celebrating Saturday night after results released by
"Those arguing against the local ordinance say it is unconstitutional and unenforceable," the Dallas Morning News reported. "The Lubbock City Council said it was unconstitutional when the seven members unanimously voted it down. It's on the ballot by way of a citizen-led petition. Many local officials there believe that if it passes, lawsuits will follow."
The Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas said the Lubbock clinic would remain open and follow legal restrictions.
"We are committed to expanding access to abortion and will provide abortion services when possible in Lubbock," Sarah Wheat, a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, said. "We want Lubbock residents to know: Our doors are open and we will continue to advocate for our patients, no matter what."
The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas issued a statement vowing to challenge the ordinance.
"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," Drucilla Tigner, policy and advocacy strategist at the ACLU of Texas, said.
According to KWKT, the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas has sued seven towns in Texas with similar pro-life ordinances, but ended up dropping the lawsuits.
In early 2020, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against seven Texas towns that passed similar ordinances outlawing abortion. The focus of the lawsuit, which was filed on behalf of two pro-choice groups in the state – was solely on the ordinances' designation of organizations assisting women in getting abortions as "criminal organizations." The ACLU later dropped the lawsuit after several cities amended their original ordinances to remove language declaring specific organizations as "criminal," while still preserving a ban on abortion.