LUBBOCK, Texas — During a regular meeting on Monday, commissioners voted to “reaffirm” Lubbock County as “sanctuary county for the unborn.” The ordinance outlawed abortion, abortion pills and traveling for the purpose of abortion in Lubbock County.
The item was approved 3-0 with Judge Curtis Parrish and Commissioner for Precinct 3 Gilbert Flores abstaining.
The ordinance stated, in part, “It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly transport any individual for the purpose of providing or obtaining an elective abortion, regardless of where the elective abortion will occur.”
According to the ordinance, the policy would be enforced with private lawsuits.
See below to read the full ordinance.
Many citizens addressed commissioners ahead of the vote. Some called abortion bans “unconstitutional” while others were in favor of the item. The Lubbock County District Attorney’s Office raised concerns about possible legal changes. Officials had concerns that the item incorrectly stated federal law.
“We simply need more time,” said Neal Burt, Civil Chief at the DA’s office. He asked for more time to complete amendments. However, Commissioner for Precinct 2 Jason Corley said he had “no interest” in postponing the ordinance. Judge Parrish moved to wait until March for a vote. The motion failed.
Commissioner Flores raised concern about how the ordinance would be enforced. He also recalled his civil rights being violated as a child, and questioned whether he wanted the “power” to tell women what to do with their bodies.
“I do not want to violate anybody’s rights … I don’t want to have that authority,” Commissioner Flores said.
Judge Parrish, who wants Lubbock to be known as a “pro-life county,” said there were no issues with the “intention” behind the ordinance, but legal concerns instead. Judge Parish said he wanted to ensure the ordinance would hold up in appellate in federal courts. He also said the ordinance only applied to unincorporated parts of the county, and questioned what it would legally accomplish.
Mark Lee Dickson, founder of the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn Initiative, expressed disappointment in Judge Parrish and Commissioner Flores for abstaining their votes. Dickson also accused the DA’s office of “misrepresenting” the proposed ordinance. He claimed there were no pending legal cases that would suggest a need to postpone. Dickson said the ordinance did not “interfere with anyone’s rights to travel” but prohibited “abortion trafficking” instead.
“The ordinance is enforceable through the private enforcement mechanism which has proven its success in both the Lubbock City Ordinance and the Texas Heartbeat Act.” Dickson said in a statement. “This is how the ordinance is enforced, the ordinance does not allow traffic stops or the arrest of anyone…”
Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas released the following statement on Monday:
“Texans already live under some of the most restrictive and dangerous abortion bans in the country, yet anti-abortion extremists continue to push additional unnecessary, confusing, and fear-inducing barriers to essential healthcare. Though banned from providing abortions by Texas’ statewide bans, the Planned Parenthood Health Center in Lubbock is a trusted resource for reproductive and sexual healthcare and education for West Texans in Lubbock and surrounding communities. With high rates of uninsured residents and sexually transmitted infections in Lubbock County, Planned Parenthood is focused on ensuring that Texans can access high-quality, affordable healthcare safely and without the stigma and judgment that these political ordinances create.”Autumn Keiser, Spokesperson for Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas
Voters in the City of Lubbock previously approved of a “sanctuary city” proposition in May of 2021. Other towns on the South Plains followed with policies of their own, including Slaton and Plainview. In Cochran County, commissioners recently gave their unanimous vote to enact a policy that outlaws travel on local roads to seek an abortion. Anti-abortion ordinances have also been adopted in Eastern New Mexico in 2023, including the cities of Hobbs, Clovis, Eunice and Lea and Roosevelt counties.