More than 30 cities have become “sanctuary cities” by passing local ordinances banning abortion
In 2019, the small East Texas city of Waskom became the first in the country become a pro-life sanctuary city. Founder Mark Lee Dickson said that Amos 5:15, with its call to pursue justice in the courts or city gate, inspired him to focus on abortion at the local level. “I just want to be obedient to the word of God,” he said.
Lebanon, Ohio, is one of the most recent communities to declare itself a sanctuary city for the unborn. Like Waskom, there’s no abortion clinic in the city, but leaders say that’s not the point. “Sometimes being an elected official means you step out and you take a stand on things,” Mayor Amy Brewer said. “Without being proactive, something like this could come into our community, and we would be unable to stop it.”
The Lebanon city council unanimously passed ordinance 2021-053 in front of a packed crowd in late May after four hours of public comment, with those opposing it arguing that it was unnecessary and even unconstitutional. The ACLU of Ohio warned it would stigmatize abortion and said “anti-abortion politicians in Lebanon have no business interfering in people’s lives and health care.”
Brewer maintains that because Lebanon has no abortion clinic, the ordinance does nothing to prevent local women from seeking an abortion. “Those individuals in our community still have those same opportunities, still have those same resources and the ability to make the decision as they’ve always had,” she said.
Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life, said his phones started ringing off the hook after the Lebanon ban passed. He expects to see other Ohio communities pass similar ordinances.
Outside Ohio, interest is picking up in a half-dozen states. The hope for these pro-life leaders will come in the fall at the U.S. Supreme Court. Justices will hear arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a Mississippi case that has the potential to overturn Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The case contests a state law forbidding abortions after 15 weeks. Gonidakis says a number of abortion bans this summer could send a strong signal to the court.
“We can send letters and we can send emails, but if we have our local governments telling them by passing ordinances as laws that we want to end this, the court’s going to listen,” he said.
Democrat lawmakers are at a loss for how to handle these ordinances on a legal basis. That’s because many Democrat-led cities passed “sanctuary” laws that sheltered illegal migrants from federal immigration authorities.
–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice