Planned Parenthood, ACLU File Lawsuit to Block Lubbock, Texas Ordinance Outlawing Abortion

The outside of the Planned Parenthood Reproductive Health Services Center is seen through a gate in St. Louis, Missouri, May 30, 2019, the last location in the state performing abortions. - A US court weighed the fate of the last abortion clinic in Missouri on May 30, with the state …
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Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas have filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Lubbock after its citizens voted May 1 to become a “sanctuary city for the unborn.”

The abortion industry giant and the civil rights organization claim the ordinance Lubbock’s citizens approved to make abortion illegal within the city’s limits is unconstitutional.

“The Constitution of the United States guarantees the right to have an abortion,” the complaint states and continues:

But as of June 1, 2021, the City of Lubbock will prohibit and prevent the exercise of that right through the passage of its Ordinance Outlawing Abortion Within the City of Lubbock, Declaring Lubbock a Sanctuary City for the Unborn …

Plaintiffs bring this action to enjoin the City from maintaining in force, enforcing, or giving legal effect to the Ordinance and to declare the Ordinance invalid under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Texas law.

Ken Lambrecht, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, said in a statement reported by KCBD News:

Lubbock’s controversial new ordinance violates our patients’ constitutional right to access abortion and we are expecting the court to stop this unlawful ordinance. Planned Parenthood is proud to provide high-quality, affordable sexual and reproductive health care to hundreds of patients in Lubbock since opening our health center last year. This year, those services expanded to include abortion services. Patients are counting on our health center in Lubbock, and we are committed to expanding access to affordable health care services — especially during the pandemic. Today, we are standing up for the rights of our Lubbock patients to make their own medical decisions.

“Apparently Planned Parenthood did not agree with the results of the Election on May 1st,” wrote Mark Lee Dickson, director of Right to Life of East Texas and founder of the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn initiative, on Facebook Tuesday, adding:

This lawsuit is frivolous and directly foreclosed by the Fifth Circuit’s ruling in Okpalobi v. Foster. The federal courts have no ability to prevent private litigants from suing abortion providers under a duly enacted law, and there is nothing a federal court can do to stop private citizens from suing to enforce this ordinance.

“The city-wide abortion ban will take effect on June 1st, regardless of what happens in this lawsuit, and any person who aids or abets an abortion in Lubbock will be facing immediate lawsuits,” Dickson continued. “Planned Parenthood should conduct itself accordingly.”

As reported by KCBD News, the City of Lubbock said, in response to the lawsuit, “The City will vigorously defend this ordinance and looks forward to presenting that defense in court.”

The lawsuit comes as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed into law Wednesday the “heartbeat” bill that bans abortions in the state once a fetal heartbeat can be detected:

In a case that will likely present the most significant challenge to the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court also agreed Monday to reexamine if state laws that prohibit most abortions are unconstitutional.

KCBD News noted that Heather Hacker and Andrew Stephens of Hacker Stephens LLP of Austin, and Fernando Bustos of the Bustos Law Firm, P.C., of Lubbock, will represent the City of Lubbock in the lawsuit.

Lubbock became the largest city in the United States to declare itself a “sanctuary city for the unborn,” the 26th in the nation to outlaw abortion.

The ordinance states:

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 … It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly aid or abet an abortion that occurs in the City of Lubbock, Texas.

Lubbock’s mayor and city council considered the ordinance after sufficient signatures were gathered from Lubbock citizens to allow for a city council vote. The council ultimately voted 7-0 against the ordinance, reasoning that the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade is considered by many to be the “law of the land.”

Dickson reported at Live Action News that, since the vote of the council was “forced by the Initiative and Referendum process, this allowed for Lubbock residents to take the opportunity to get the ordinance on the ballot and to vote on the ordinance themselves on May 1, 2021.”

Lubbock Mayor Dan Pope said in a statement following the vote that “voters made it clear that Lubbock will become the next sanctuary city for the unborn.”

Planned Parenthood began performing abortions at its Lubbock facility on April 15.

“Because the Lubbock Ordinance that outlaws abortion was passed after abortions were offered in Lubbock, this makes Lubbock the first city in the nation to pass an ordinance outlawing abortion in a city where abortions are already being committed,” Dickson noted.

As Dickson observed, the ACLU and two abortion rights groups dropped their lawsuit against seven of the towns that each declared themselves a “sanctuary city for the unborn.” None of the towns have abortion clinics.

The ordinance contains two “enforcement mechanisms,” one public and one private.

“While the public enforcement mechanism is dependent upon the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the private enforcement mechanism is immediately enforceable,” Dickson explained.

The ordinance provides the following private enforcement mechanism:

Any person, corporation, or entity that commits an unlawful act … other than the mother of the unborn child that has been aborted, shall be liable in tort to the unborn child’s mother, father, grandparents, siblings and half-siblings. The person or entity that committed the unlawful act shall be liable to each surviving relative of the aborted unborn child for: (a) Compensatory damages, including damages for emotional distress; (b) Punitive damages; and (c) Costs and attorneys’ fees.

“I think it is worthy of pointing out that not one of the other twenty-seven Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn were sued, but only the city of Lubbock,” Dickson posted on Facebook. “We will be looking forward to seeing more cities outlaw abortion in the near future and many lawsuits against Planned Parenthood come June 1st.

The case is Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas Surgical Health Services v. City of Lubbock, Texas, No. 5:21-cv-114 in United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas.

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