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The City of Poynor, Texas (pop. 314), has become the 28th in the nation (and the 26th in Texas) to pass an enforceable ordinance outlawing abortion within its city limits. The vote by the Poynor City Council, which took place at Poynor City Hall, was unanimous and was instantly cheered by all those in attendance. Mayor Dannie Smith shared, “The City Council and I are honored to make a stand for the unborn and stand up for the ones without a voice.”
The Poynor 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 Poynor, Texas,” and “It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly aid or abet an abortion that occurs in the City of Poynor.”
Like others that have been passed, the Poynor Ordinance Outlawing Abortion contains two enforcement mechanisms. The public enforcement mechanism establishes fines against the abortionist and anyone who aids and abets the abortionist for any abortion which takes place within the City limits of Poynor. The ordinance states that these fines cannot be imposed unless it is determined that the individual seeking to impose the penalty upon the one who committed the unlawful act will not create an “undue burden” on women seeking abortions, the person, corporation, or entity who committed the unlawful act of abortion lacks standing to assert the third-party rights of women seeking abortions in court, or Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey are overturned.
While the public enforcement section of the ordinance is dependent upon future actions of the courts, the private enforcement section of the ordinance is not dependent upon future actions of the courts.
The private enforcement section states, “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 mother and/or father of the unborn child that was aborted. The person or entity that committed the unlawful act shall be liable to each surviving parent of the aborted unborn child for: compensatory damages, including damages for emotional distress; punitive damages; and costs and attorneys’ fees.” Any private citizen, including any surviving relative of the aborted unborn child, may also bring a civil enforcement suit against a person or entity that commits or plans to commit an unlawful act and shall be awarded injunctive relief, statutory damages of not less than 2,000 for each violation, and costs and attorney fees. According to Section F-4, this section is immediately enforceable. Section F4 states, “The citizen-suit enforcement action . . . may be brought on or after the effective date of this ordinance.”
Several residents of Poynor voiced support for the measure and many residents erected signs in their yards calling for their city to become a Sanctuary City for the Unborn. One resident said that the reason she wanted to see abortion outlawed in her city was because she believed “God made children for a reason” and that “kids belong on earth.”
Another resident calling for abortion to be outlawed in Poynor shared, “I have experienced an abortion in my early twenties and I was never told the truth. It has been a great burden of sorrow to me, but I know Jesus Christ has forgiven me.”
The vote marks the third city this month to pass an ordinance outlawing abortion, following the cities of Lubbock (pop. 264,000) which took place on May 1, and Abernathy (pop. 3,005) which took place on May 10.
Rev. Franklin Graham recently praised the City of Lubbock and other cities in a Facebook post, saying, “Way to go Lubbock! This is great news! Lubbock, Texas, just became a ‘sanctuary city’ for the unborn. On Saturday, 62% — a supermajority — of the people voted to save the lives of babies and outlaw abortion within their city limits.”
Graham went on to share about the 42.7 million abortions which were committed worldwide in 2020 — a number which dwarfs the 8.2 million who died from cancer, 5 million who died from smoking, 1.7 million who died from HIV/AIDS, and the 3 million who died from the coronavirus over the past year.
Graham continued, “Abortion is the number one killer. If it were anything else we would be declaring a state of emergency, calling a press conference, or locking down.” Graham concluded, “Thank you Lubbock and other cities that are taking this step to be a sanctuary for life.” According to Forbes, Graham’s post was the most popular post on Facebook during the week of May 2, “drawing nearly 300,000 reactions, 9,000 comments and 22,500 shares.”
Graham was not the only religious leader on the national scene to praise cities outlawing abortion. Bishop Joseph Strickland of the Tyler Diocese in Tyler, Texas, also praised the action of Lubbock and the other cities across the United States who have passed enforceable ordinances outlawing abortion within their city limits. He shared how he was proud that the City of Waskom, the first to outlaw abortion, is one of the cities in his diocese. Other cities in the Tyler Diocese which have outlawed abortion include the Omaha, Naples, Joaquin, Tenaha, Gilmer, Rusk, Gary City, Wells, East Mountain, Grapeland, Murchison, Latexo, and Poynor.
Omaha, Texas, was the second city in the nation to pass an ordinance outlawing abortion, but “walked back” its ordinance to a non-binding resolution after receiving an open records request from the ACLU. The Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn Initiative is hopeful to see Omaha undo its retraction and re-outlaw abortion in the near future.
Bishop Strickland has shared his hopes for every city in the 33 counties which make up the Tyler Diocese to join cities like Waskom and Waskom in outlawing abortion and becoming sanctuary cities for the unborn. Speaking of the Biden Administration’s ‘goal of making abortion available in every zip code of the nation,’ Bishop Strickland urged pro-lifers to push back and fight for life on the local level, stating, “We need to fight from the other direction and say Zip Code by Zip Code – NO!”
Right To Life of East Texas and the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn Initiative are eager to work with Bishop Strickland on outlawing abortion in several cities within the Tyler Diocese, including Athens, Canton, Carthage, Centerville, Emory, Henderson, Lindale, Mount Vernon, and Tyler.
If Poynor faces a lawsuit over their ordinance outlawing abortion ,Attorney Jonathan F. Mitchell, the former Solicitor General of Texas, has agreed to represent the City of Poynor at no cost to the city or taxpayers.
Mark Lee Dickson is a Director with Right to Life of East Texas, a Pastor of SovereignLOVE Church in Longview, Texas, and the founder of the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn initiative.
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Author: Mark Lee Dickson
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