Sanctuary City for the Unborn Momentum Grows: Centerville Passes Ordinance

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Centerville, Texas, a town midway between Houston and Dallas, has become the latest city to ban abortion. 

Earlier this month, the city council unanimously passed an ordinance banning abortion, making Centerville a Sanctuary City for the Unborn. Joining a growing number of Texas communities, the citizens of Centerville took a stand for Life and passed an enforceable ordinance banning the killing of the preborn.

Residents have been working to pass the ordinance in Centerville for two years. 

In 2019, Waskom became the first Texas city to outlaw abortion. Centerville resident Carly Hickman rejoiced when she heard about the ordinance. Hickman knew that the ordinance was what she had been praying for, a way to ensure Pro-Life protections in her own community.

After receiving early support from many residents and local churches, passage of the ordinance seemed imminent. But Pro-Lifers soon learned that the Centerville City attorney is married to a former board chair of Planned Parenthood.  

Some residents became concerned that they would face push-back from abortion activists. Hickman said, “We could not just assume that this ordinance was going to be passed without opposition. We knew we had to make sure that we had a whole community of support before taking the initiative to the city council.”

Despite this, support for the ordinance grew. Centerville citizens continued their efforts to become a Sanctuary City for the Unborn. 

Their efforts came to fruition at a recent city council meeting. For 30 minutes, Centerville residents presented testimony in favor of the ordinance. No residents spoke against the Pro-Life measure.  

Bishop Joseph Strickland, whose diocese includes Centerville, has voiced his support for the Sanctuary City for the Unborn initiative. In September 2019, when the first town in his diocese banned abortion, Bishop Strickland urged Christians, “Let us pray that this movement spreads.” 

Sadly, Texans cannot rely on all faith leaders to have the same courage as Bishop Strickland. When the City of Lubbock considered the Pro-Life ordinance, Lubbock Bishop Robert Coerver prohibited churches in the diocese from promoting the initiative. “I have not been supportive of the political efforts promoting the Sanctuary City for the Unborn Ordinance in the city of Lubbock,” he said in a statement. “I wish those promoting the proposed ordinance would put resources and energy into other life-saving matters that are at stake when one hears of ‘Sanctuary City’ measures. Alas!”

Centerville Mayor Nolan Ray Goolsby said, “I had our Secretary check with our attorney in Waco and he advised us to not take any action and we called TML (Texas Municipal League) and they told us the same thing but I want to go from my heart and what I have been praying about this.”

The Centerville City Council then voted 5-0 in favor of the ordinance. 

Mark Lee Dickson, leader of the Sanctuary City for the Unborn movement, explains that 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 Centerville, Texas.” Further; “It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly aid or abet an abortion that occurs in the City of Centerville, Texas.” 

The ordinance defines abortion, distinguishing this act of destructive violence from miscarriage.

The public aspect of the ordinance is not immediately enforceable as abortion is legal in all 50 states, following the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision. If the Supreme Court overrules that decision or resolves other legal questions, the ordinance would be fully enforceable. 

In the meantime, the private enforcement mechanism is immediately in effect. Under the ordinance, anyone can sue the abortionist and anyone who aids and abets the abortionist in the death of a preborn child.

Very recently, five other Texas cities, including the city of Lubbock, passed similar ordinances, showing that momentum is growing for this grassroots Pro-Life effort. 

Texans will not allow the anti-Life Biden administration free reign in demanding the unfettered destruction of innocent human Life. In their own communities, Texans are doing what they can to ensure that Life is respected and protected.

Texas Right to Life applauds the people of Centerville and thanks them for their brave action in defense of Life. 

As Dickson noted, Centerville will not be the last city to become a Sanctuary City for the Unborn. Several others, including Edinburg, Eastland, Leona, Slaton, and San Angelo are expected to pass the Pro-Life measure soon. 

If you would like to make your city a Sanctuary City for the Unborn, you can learn more here!

Ask state lawmakers to follow Centerville’s lead! Sign our petition to urge Governor Abbott to add Pro-Life Priority Bills to the special session agenda this month.

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