Abortion sanctuary city

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An abortion sanctuary city is a municipality which has passed a legal ordinance, prohibiting the performing of abortions within its municipal limits. The term is taken from "sanctuary city" (a city that openly states that it will not enforce immigration laws).

The cities which have passed such ordinances or have considered doing so are generally very small rural towns (though the largest city, Lubbock, Texas, is over 250,000 population and is home to a large state university) where the city (or the county in which it is located) is overwhelmingly conservative, Republican and pro-life; even if the area was heavily liberal, Democrat and openly supported abortion on demand, abortion clinics likely would not open in those towns due to the lack of potential clients (though Lubbock was home to one). Even so, it has not stopped abortion advocacy groups from threatening to sue if such an ordinance is passed, which has caused some towns to not take any action and at least one town to withdraw the ordinance it passed.

Most of the ordinances have two parts: a public section and a private section.

  • The public section generally would allow the municipality to fine anyone who performs an abortion, or "aids and abets" in one. However, the section generally states that the fines cannot be imposed unless 1) it is determined that enforcing the fine would not create an "undue burden" upon one seeking an abortion, 2) whoever commits the abortion lacks standing in the courts to assert third-party rights on behalf of one seeking an abortion, or 3) Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey are overturned. Therefore, at present this section cannot be enforced; it exists in the event the matter is turned over to the states.
  • The private section generally would allow individuals to sue anyone who performs or "aids and abets" in an abortion (except the mother who has the abortion), making that person liable in tort to the mother and/or father of the aborted child for compensatory damages (including damages for emotional distress), punitive damages, and court costs and attorney's fees. In addition, any private individual may file suit against anyone who performs or "aids and abets" in an abortion (again, except the mother who has the abortion), and can be granted injunctive relief, statutory damages, and court costs and attorney's fees. However, unlike the public section, this section usually has immediate effect. (This provision, which is highly controversial, made its way into the Texas Heartbeat Act.)

These cities differ from those which have passed resolutions opposing abortion, as a resolution is only "the opinion" of the city, and has no legal effect.

The movement began in Texas, a generally pro-life state, with the passage of such an ordinance in the town of Waskom, Texas (located on the Louisiana border) on June 11, 2019, but as of May 2021 has spread to at least two other states.

Official Abortion Sanctuary Cities

The list is current as of November 9, 2021.

  1. Waskom, Texas (the first city to pass such an ordinance)[1]
  2. {Omaha, Texas, repealed its ordinance after being threatened with legal action; in order to maintain the official count by Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn, they are listed here in order to maintain the official count}
  3. Naples, Texas[2]
  4. Joaquin, Texas[3]
  5. Tenaha, Texas[4]
  6. Gilmer, Texas[5]
  7. Westbrook, Texas (the first city outside of East Texas, where the movement started and remains the strongest)[6]
  8. Rusk, Texas[7]
  9. Colorado City, Texas[8]
  10. Gary, Texas[9]
  11. Big Spring, Texas[10]
  12. Wells, Texas[11]
  13. Whiteface, Texas[12]
  14. East Mountain, Texas[13]
  15. New Home, Texas[14]
  16. Morton, Texas[15]
  17. Ackerly, Texas[16]
  18. Grapeland, Texas[17]
  19. Goldsmith, Texas[18]
  20. Carbon, Texas
  21. Gorman, Texas
  22. Murchison, Texas
  23. Latexo, Texas
  24. Hayes Center, Nebraska (the first city outside of Texas known to have passed such an ordinance)[19]
  25. Blue Hill, Nebraska[20]
  26. Lubbock, Texas (by far the largest city to pass such an ordinance, and the first city where an abortion clinic actually operates to pass such an ordinance; this required a vote of the citizenry to pass after the council refused to do so)
  27. Abernathy, Texas
  28. Poynor, Texas
  29. Lebanon, Ohio (making Ohio the third state to have a city pass such an ordinance)
  30. Levelland, Texas
  31. Sundown, Texas
  32. Sterling City, Texas
  33. Centerville, Texas
  34. Eastland, Texas
  35. Leona, Texas
  36. Crawford, Texas
  37. Brownsboro, Texas
  38. Impact, Texas
  39. Nazareth, Texas
  40. Cisco, Texas
  41. Mason, Ohio
  42. Anson, Texas


  1. https://www.arklatexhomepage.com/news/local-news/waskom-passes-sanctuary-city-law-for-the-unborn/
  2. https://www.ketk.com/news/top-stories/two-northeast-texas-cities-become-sanctuary-cities-for-the-unborn/
  3. https://www.arklatexhomepage.com/news/state-news/texas/joaquin-city-council-to-consider-becoming-sanctuary-city-for-unborn/
  4. https://www.arklatexhomepage.com/news/local-news/tenaha-city-to-become-5th-sanctuary-city-for-the-unborn/
  5. https://www.news-journal.com/news/local/gilmer-latest-east-texas-city-to-adopt-anti-abortion-ordinance/article_6e471e40-df3a-11e9-b02b-7bef539d5284.html
  6. https://thetexan.news/sanctuary-city-for-the-unborn-ordinance-passes-in-west-texas-town/
  7. https://www.thecherokeean.com/articles/46338/view
  8. https://thetexan.news/colorado-city-and-big-spring-pass-ordinances-effectively-outlawing-abortion/
  9. https://www.panolawatchman.com/news/gary-passes-ordinance-to-outlaw-abortion-within-the-city-limits/article_48e0488c-393c-11ea-8c13-6bd0a5294601.html
  10. https://thetexan.news/colorado-city-and-big-spring-pass-ordinances-effectively-outlawing-abortion/
  11. https://www.jacksonvilleprogress.com/news/wells-town-officials-opt-to-be-sanctuary-city-for-unborn/article_f7f72392-4f83-11ea-bcb9-cf998d0d69e8.html
  12. https://klvtnews.wordpress.com/2020/03/13/whiteface-becomes-the-13th-city-in-the-state-to-pass-an-ordinance-to-ban-abortion-clinics-in-the-city/
  13. https://www.ketk.com/news/local-news/another-east-texas-town-declares-itself-sanctuary-city-for-the-unborn/
  14. https://thetexan.news/15th-city-in-texas-outlaws-abortion/
  15. https://thetexan.news/town-of-morton-outlaws-abortion-declares-itself-sanctuary-city-for-the-unborn/
  16. https://thetexan.news/ackerly-becomes-17th-texas-town-to-outlaw-abortion/
  17. https://www.ketk.com/news/local-news/grapeland-passes-ordinance-outlawing-abortions-in-city/
  18. https://thetexan.news/goldsmith-becomes-19th-sanctuary-city-for-the-unborn-in-texas/
  19. https://www.hayescentertimesrepublican.com/feature-stories/hayescentersanctuaryfortheunborn
  20. https://www.knopnews2.com/2021/04/15/blue-hill-is-second-nebraska-town-to-outlaw-abortion-in-city-limits/

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